Selling your farm

LEGAL ADVICE: I am thinking of selling part of my farm. What matters will I need to consider? 

There are a number of important aspects to such a sale.

There may be tax or social welfare implications depending on your personal circumstances arising from the sale. So you should consult with your accountant or agricultural adviser or Teagasc as to whether the sale might affect your income tax or social welfare situation or whether you may be liable for capital gains tax.

Is your property mortgaged? If so your mortgage provider will need to agree to release the part being transferred from the mortgage.

Do you have any single payment entitlement under the EU/Department of Agriculture payment scheme? If so, do you propose to sell the portion with or without the entitlement?

You will need to engage an estate agent. You should agree the advertising budget and the commission with the agent. If the estate agent is to be a sole agent, you could consider  confining his or her role for a limited period from the date of engagement as if the property does not sell, you can then engage other agents. You will however be liable for the agreed advertising budget. You should obtain confirmation of these matters in writing.

You will need to engage a competent surveyor such as an engineer, architect or land surveyor to mark the boundaries of the plot being sold on a map complying with Land Registry mapping regulations  and to provide an exact area for the both the part transferred and the part of your farm retained.

It is essential that you ensure that you reserve sufficient  rights of way and wayleaves and so on for example that you have proper access from a public road to the lands you are retaining. The purchaser may have similar requirements. If any such rights are required, these must suitably marked on the map.

Are there any buildings on the part of land you propose to sell? If so, you will need to consider whether planning permission was necessary or if the development was exempt. If there are buildings on the plot, are they in good condition and have you public liability insurance in place?

You will need to consider the position in relation to access to water and gas . Do any water mains or gas mains run through the property in sale? Depending on the location of the water supply, pump house and  pipelines  you may need to retain the right to draw water from a well or water source to service your house or any buildings not in sale. If the water source to be used by the purchaser, ensure that it is not polluted.

Is there a septic tank on the part of the property being sold? Has the septic tank been registered and the registration fee paid? Issues you will need to consider will include  the date of installation of the septic tank, whether  planning permission was required, whether is it properly sealed and covered, and whether is it in good working order.

Have you received any notices from any public bodies in respect of the part being transferred? Such notices might relate to septic tanks, water pollution, or wildlife etc.

Are there any crops on the property being sold? If so, do you wish to include the crops in the sale or do you wish to retain ownership?

Does the part being transferred affects the family home? If so, you will need to obtain the consent of your spouse or partner.

These are some of the important matters you need consider. There may be more depending on your particular circumstances. As always it is essential that you obtain the necessary advices from suitable professional advisers and in particular your solicitor.

Good luck!

By John Deeney 

Mr Deeney is a barrister and former Deputy Registrar of Titles in the Property Registration Authority. He now provides Land Registration Consultancy Services and can be contacted by email deeneyj@hotmail.com.

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