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Thread: That's not my cattle on my land!

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    That's not my cattle on my land!

    When purchasing a field (about 3 acres) with vacant possession from the field owner who has had a freebie tenant keeping 3 or 4 of his cattle in the field for the last 10 - 15 years and has made no attempt to move out after being asked to do so on 3 or 4 occasions still hasn't moved months later, where does the new owner stand? The field owner has offered a little money off to leave it for the new owner to sort out. Can they just open the gate and let them wander free. Or plough the field bit by bit until there is no grass for the cattle to feed on and the cattle owner is forced to move on to keep the cattle fed. Is there any duty of care on the new owner for the cattle? I think the problem is the cattle have no passports so the owner of the cattle can't move them. Or with vacant possession if the cattle are there when the sale is concluded do they then belong to the new owner of the field ?
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    There is another 2 acre field with another 2 cattle in about 150M across from the field in question can the new owner just move the cattle to the other field with the other cattle or could there be a reason they are kept separate ?
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Sounds like you'd be inheriting a sitting tenant. I'd be inclined to just put the cattle in the other field and lock the gate, however i'd be concerned that the continued occupation of the field without paying rent and without the benefit of a written contract may have established some sort of right or de facto tenancy for the occupier, and as such i'd be wary about simply handing over the money less a few hundred for your inconvenience incurred evicting the unwanted guest, as you may end up paying more in legal fees if the occupier cuts up rough about it. Presumably you have a solicitor dealing with the sale for you? I'd be inclined to ask them for a professional opinion on it.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Of course, if you've agreed the sale but haven't parted with the money yet, kick the cattle off and see what happens.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    First rule is, don't post on a public forum that your going to do anything with any identifiable information - shows intent and could make you liable....


    2nd you have two options - pass the problem onto someone else, or deal with it.


    The tricky thing with cattle is passports/TB Testing etc, Do you know the owners details, does he have land/yard elsewhere? you certainly could use an approved haulier to return his escaped cattle without any problem! ;-)


    If you don't know the owner, Are they correctly tagged etc, call the local Animal Health Officer (or whatever the person is called nowadays) and get them to look up owners details, if the owners details are incorrect or the movement info is incorrect (what holding number are they on etc) and the owner is un-contactable they may be able to issue you a movement license of some sort, or just take them straight to slaughter. Just make sure any money received is kept to be able to pass on to the owner.


    My advice - give absolutely NO leniency, be ruthless, don't give any option of claiming a tenancy (which would potentially mean you have to give them 12 months notice, as they have not been paying, I don't think this applies) and remind yourself that people who take the Pi$$ like this shouldn't be allowed to keep cattle.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Quote Originally Posted by Einstien View Post

    If you don't know the owner, Are they correctly tagged etc, call the local Animal Health Officer (or whatever the person is called nowadays) and get them to look up owners details, if the owners details are incorrect or the movement info is incorrect (what holding number are they on etc) and the owner is un-contactable they may be able to issue you a movement license of some sort
    No, they will tell you nothing (data protection). All they will do is point you in the direction of the police which, as you can imagine, will be a complete waste of time.

    Been there, done that, got the t-shirt

    Quote Originally Posted by Quattromike View Post
    When purchasing a field (about 3 acres) with vacant possession from the field owner...................
    ...........Or with vacant possession if the cattle are there when the sale is concluded do they then belong to the new owner of the field ?
    Surely if the cattle are there, it isn't vacant possession
    You really need to talk to your solicitor about this, before the sale goes through.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Quote Originally Posted by MC130 View Post
    No, they will tell you nothing (data protection). All they will do is point you in the direction of the police which, as you can imagine, will be a complete waste of time.

    Been there, done that, got the t-shirt



    Surely if the cattle are there, it isn't vacant possession
    You really need to talk to your solicitor about this, before the sale goes through.
    Sale contract should say "WITH VACANT POSSESSION" it is up to the vendor to sort it out.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    It largely depends if you have completed on the purchase. If you have and the cattle were there at the time of completion then you have a tenant on your hands. If he has been paying rent continuously for more than a year and has enjoyed possession then he has an AHA tenancy. If he hasn't been paying any rent but he's been there long enough he can claim possession anyway.

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    Senior Member skoda's Avatar
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Quote Originally Posted by matbrojoe View Post
    Of course, if you've agreed the sale but haven't parted with the money yet, kick the cattle off and see what happens.
    Not unless you have the cattle passports at hand and a clear TB test, it would be your fault, even if the gate fell off although if the gate fell off it would be the problem of the person/persons registered on IACS for that land on that particular year if it just happened at night .
    Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Slightly different circumstances to mike but a neighbour of ours bought some lad approx. 20 miles from us about 10years ago, however he outbid the farmer next door to this ground and as such pissed him off. For the whole next summer he couldn't keep next doors cattle off the ground, he was rounding them up and getting them back to where they belong at least once a week.

    When he got pissed of doing this he rounded about twenty or so of them up and loaded them into a large tractor drawn trailer and took them back to next to us and rang DARD and gave them the eartag no's, saying he's found these cattle on his land and could they contact their owner and notify him of the whereabouts of the cattle.

    The other farmer only had a 10x 5 trailer towed behind a car, he had to make 7 or 8 trips back and forward to take the cattle home, they never broke out afterwards!!!

    perhaps you could do the same but secure the field so he can't return them there?

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    I feel the general consensus is don't hand over any money until it has been resolved. If the owner offered a reduction in price to take the land and the buyer deal with the tenant what is the likely hood of getting him to move on? bearing in mind the tenant would have little money and nowhere else to go and is notorious for being difficult and bad news, so would not be in a hurry to budge.

    Edit:
    I mean what can be done to move him on?
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Mike, I have just read your original post and to be honest I doubt you (or anyone else) would be able to get rid of the "tenant" because if he has had unhindered use of the land for the last 10-15 years then he could potentially claim what is called adverse possession. The actual length of time is critical, 12 years is normally considered to be the point at which a party can claim AP. If I use the term squatters rights then hopefully it will concentrate your mind.

    As always on Internet Forums, any person who asks a question always knows more about the situation than can normally be written down but may I turn this on it's head please ? While not wishing to denigrate the existing owner in any way are they offering an inducement of a reduction in the price, hoping that you will bite and they can get their hands on at least part of the value ? Have they investigated the situation very thoroughly and discovered that they will never be able to get vacant possession and are trying to salvage whatever they can ? And don't even think about buying it and waiting until one day when the field is empty and then dash in and plough it. He would have a case against you.

    All of the above is English law and I don't know if it is any different where you are. This is one of those situations where an old street-wise friend would have said "buy brains" And not just any old lawyer. Find a good agricultural one, if you don't already use one, who specialises in such situations.

    Good luck but be careful. We all know examples of the type of person that you have described the tenant as and if it were me I would only buy it with vacant possession.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Quote Originally Posted by zaza View Post
    Mike, I have just read your original post and to be honest I doubt you (or anyone else) would be able to get rid of the "tenant" because if he has had unhindered use of the land for the last 10-15 years then he could potentially claim what is called adverse possession. The actual length of time is critical, 12 years is normally considered to be the point at which a party can claim AP. If I use the term squatters rights then hopefully it will concentrate your mind.

    As always on Internet Forums, any person who asks a question always knows more about the situation than can normally be written down but may I turn this on it's head please ? While not wishing to denigrate the existing owner in any way are they offering an inducement of a reduction in the price, hoping that you will bite and they can get their hands on at least part of the value ? Have they investigated the situation very thoroughly and discovered that they will never be able to get vacant possession and are trying to salvage whatever they can ? And don't even think about buying it and waiting until one day when the field is empty and then dash in and plough it. He would have a case against you.

    All of the above is English law and I don't know if it is any different where you are. This is one of those situations where an old street-wise friend would have said "buy brains" And not just any old lawyer. Find a good agricultural one, if you don't already use one, who specialises in such situations.

    Good luck but be careful. We all know examples of the type of person that you have described the tenant as and if it were me I would only buy it with vacant possession.
    +1 Good post, eyes open and professional help may result in you parting with money for professional fees but save yourself a hell of a lot if the whole thing falls out of bed once you've bought it. Sounds like a potential minefield really
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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Quote Originally Posted by zaza View Post
    Mike, I have just read your original post and to be honest I doubt you (or anyone else) would be able to get rid of the "tenant" because if he has had unhindered use of the land for the last 10-15 years then he could potentially claim what is called adverse possession. The actual length of time is critical, 12 years is normally considered to be the point at which a party can claim AP. If I use the term squatters rights then hopefully it will concentrate your mind.

    As always on Internet Forums, any person who asks a question always knows more about the situation than can normally be written down but may I turn this on it's head please ? While not wishing to denigrate the existing owner in any way are they offering an inducement of a reduction in the price, hoping that you will bite and they can get their hands on at least part of the value ? Have they investigated the situation very thoroughly and discovered that they will never be able to get vacant possession and are trying to salvage whatever they can ? And don't even think about buying it and waiting until one day when the field is empty and then dash in and plough it. He would have a case against you.

    All of the above is English law and I don't know if it is any different where you are. This is one of those situations where an old street-wise friend would have said "buy brains" And not just any old lawyer. Find a good agricultural one, if you don't already use one, who specialises in such situations.

    Good luck but be careful. We all know examples of the type of person that you have described the tenant as and if it were me I would only buy it with vacant possession.
    Very interesting.
    it turns out the dates of occupancy may well be very important.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cusine;265413[h=3
    D. J. Cusine*[/h]In Scotland, like England, possession plays a part in landownership. In Scotland a non-owner may acquire a title to land by the operation of prescription;1 in England the title of an owner may be lost by limitation2 but an easement can be acquired by prescription,3 as can a servitude in Scotland.4 Because the acquisition of ownership in Scots law is by the operation of prescription, both a title and possession are necessary,5 whereas in England only possession is required. Although the theory behind and the purpose of adverse possession are different in each jurisdiction, as are the periods of possession, the result in many cases will be similar.
    .
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Hitch the plough on and plough the field up. Be nice till it's time not to be nice. Or something like that. If you're not careful, you'll end up buying a field that you can never use.

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    Senior Member grassmanman's Avatar
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    +1 for ploughing a very natural thing for a new owner to do or/and spread chicken litter on it.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    The law has changed WRT adverse possession making it harder to obtain simply by 'squatting', particularly if the land is registered with the land registry. This wiki article refers specifically to the law in england and wales so ma not be completely relevant to the OP's situation in scotand, but there is plenty of info on line and google is your friend:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adverse_possession

    the following examples are particularly interesting and relevant to the case in hand:

    "But "possession" did not require actual occupation. So in Powell v McFarlane,[8] it was held to be "possession" when Mr Powell, from age 14, let his cows roam into Mr McFarlane's land. The second requirement, however, was that there needed to be an intention to possess the land. Mr Powell lost his claim because simply letting his cows roam was an equivocal act: it was only later that there was evidence he intended to take possession, for instance by erecting signs on the land and parking a lorry. But this had not happened long enough for the 12 year time limit on McFarlane's claim to have expired. Third, possession is not considered "adverse" if the person is there with the owner's consent. For example, in BP Properties Ltd v Buckler, Dillon LJ held that Mrs Buckler could not claim adverse possession over land owned by BP because BP had told her she could stay rent free for life.[9] Fourth, under the Limitation Act 1980 sections 29 and 30, the adverse possessor must not have acknowledged the title of the owner in any express way, or the clock starts running again. However, the courts have interpreted this requirement flexibly. " (end quote)

    You can get a good idea from the resources available to you on line, but i would echo zaza's suggestion to get advice from a decent specialist solicitor on this matter.

    My un informed non lawyer wot i reckon view is that it would be difficult for the occupier to claim adverse possession but, and it's a big but, they could be a massive pain in the arse for the next few years if they chose to be, and very often people like this with no money, and nothing to lose love nothing batter than being a pain in the arse just for the sake of it.

    My inclination would be to take steps in conjunction with the vendor to evict the squatter by getting the vendor to give him written notice to move on in 7 days, then if he fails to comply move the cattle to the other field nearby he has stock in, you may then wish to plough the field to discourage their return as suggested. you of course did not move the cattle, they got out and some concerned citizen had put them back in the wrong field. If this works, all is sorted and away you go with the sale, if not, you'll know where you stand and can chose to walk away or proceed with legal advice.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    But do you also agree with me Joe that even if the cattle are moved to one of their owner's fields after "they got out and some concerned citizen had put them back in the wrong field" that it would be unwise to plough the field ? If the cattle owner does eventually succeed in obtaining adverse possession he could concoct quite a large claim against the rightful owner. In any event, he could always put the cattle back, even in the ploughed field, and feed them if he is the sort of ar$h0!3 that it sounds like he is. Other options are : dig a ditch across the gateway, easy to do if there is already a culvert there, get a large tree trunk and block the gateway, weld the gate shut, etc. etc.

    One thing that hasn't been stated is that the rightful owner should be taking photographs and keeping a diary. But I would still buy an hour of a good lawyer's time. One thing I don't think we have been told is whether this obnoxious individual is a man of straw or has financial clout.

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    Senior Member b slicker's Avatar
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    If the cattle have no passports, the owner would not be in any rush to take legal action.

    And if the new owner of the land finds himself in possession of cattle with no passports, the obvious solution is to get in
    touch with trading standards or the local animal health office to discuss what should be done.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    depends whether the cattle are completely unregistered or have a registration paper issued in lieu of a passport if BCMS won't issue a proper passport because the information given at registration is incorrect, or the registration is submitted late, etc. Such animals are legally held but cannot be moved off the holding of origin and must be slaughtered on site by a knackerman at the end of their lives.

    If they're untagged / unregistered then i agree, trading standards are the way to go.

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    Senior Member Quattromike's Avatar
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Thanks for these replies, there is some interesting stuff coming through here. nothing has actually happened as yet, the handover date is still a bit away and the occupier could load his cattle up and shift them on but best to be prepared for what could happen.
    Just as I'm typing I'm having a thought. do you think there is a possibility he could move his cattle for a few weeks then the new owner moves in thinking all is well then he appears back saying "I adversely occupy this land." and you're then stuck with him? or would that all be dealt with by the solicitor/conveyencing and such things are unlikely.
    "At the end of the day, I think it's going to get very dark."

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Quote Originally Posted by Quattromike View Post
    Thanks for these replies, there is some interesting stuff coming through here. nothing has actually happened as yet, the handover date is still a bit away and the occupier could load his cattle up and shift them on but best to be prepared for what could happen.
    Just as I'm typing I'm having a thought. do you think there is a possibility he could move his cattle for a few weeks then the new owner moves in thinking all is well then he appears back saying "I adversely occupy this land." and you're then stuck with him? or would that all be dealt with by the solicitor/conveyencing and such things are unlikely.
    Again i'm no expert but IMO no, by vacating the ground he'd be acknowledging the new owner's rights to occupancy and any adverse possession attempt would have the clock re set to zero from when he tried to move back on. The new owner would also be registered as such with the land registry so ownership would not be in doubt. that said you'd still have the hassle of evicting him.

    I'd say seek legal advice, it may not apply to you but NFU members can get half an hour free advice from an agricultural legal specialist, or they could when i was still a member, failing that bite the bullet and pay, it will be 100 well spent IMO.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Could you get the present owner to employ you - on his responsibility as owner - to plough the land and sow something before he sells it to you? If he won't take the risk on his own responsibility you'll know his hands are tied by the presence of the grazier and the land is worth a lot less - if anything.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Have the existing land owner send the cattle owner a registered letter to remove the cattle by a certain date
    a week or so after that date, have a couple of "buddies" go into the field, dump the cattle, drag them on to a truck or covered trailer and take them to a "freezer" up country.
    When the cattle owner shows up, play dumb and just say you thought he responded to the registered letter.

    bon appetite

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    If cattle are untagged and no passports how can anyone claim ownership?

    Gut feel is get it sorted before sale goes through.

    If already too late move them and weld or block gate.

    Failing that third option as posted above. I was under the impression untagged cattle roaming free were held in dim regard by trading standards and they were quite happy for them to be rounded up and slaughtered to get them out of the system? At least that is what I believe happened locally to me not so long ago.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Quote Originally Posted by Uwork4menow View Post
    If cattle are untagged and no passports how can anyone claim ownership?

    Gut feel is get it sorted before sale goes through.

    If already too late move them and weld or block gate.

    Failing that third option as posted above. I was under the impression untagged cattle roaming free were held in dim regard by trading standards and they were quite happy for them to be rounded up and slaughtered to get them out of the system? At least that is what I believe happened locally to me not so long ago.
    you're quite right. completely unregistered cattle would be confiscated by trading standards, but, as i said above. cattle can not have passports but still be registered, in which case they can be legally owned but can't b moved of their holding of birth, if the field in question is registered as the birth holding, then that could be why they can't be moved off it, though i think Mike mentions more cattle in another field belonging to the squatter as well, they could be moved in with them as that would probably be classed as part of the squatter's 'holding'.

    Whatever the case, it wouldn't hurt to ring TS and make them aware particularly if the cattle are untagged

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    can only comment on English law and Scottish, may be very different on this.
    If the cattle have been there for several years and the owner has received any sort of payment, possibly in kind, by the tenant fencing and keeping tidy.
    Then the man with the cattle, has got a de facto tenancy, and any attempt to evict him, would be considered a serious offence!
    If the Landowner has never received rent or tried to evict the grazier, then he may have a claim to adverse possession.

    Whichever is the situation proceed with great care!

    The legality of the cattle with regards to tagging etc. is entirely irrelevant, to the graziers rights.

    some of the comments here could land someone in jail
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Ploughing your own field up to get rid of squatters could land you in jail? Well now I've heard everything.

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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Quote Originally Posted by Quattromike View Post
    I feel the general consensus is don't hand over any money until it has been resolved. If the owner offered a reduction in price to take the land and the buyer deal with the tenant what is the likely hood of getting him to move on? bearing in mind the tenant would have little money and nowhere else to go and is notorious for being difficult and bad news, so would not be in a hurry to budge.

    Edit:
    I mean what can be done to move him on?
    Not with a bargepole - life is too short for that nonsense - settlement on vacant possession or not at all

    Cheers
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    Re: That's not my cattle on my land!

    Edit: re reading the posts, if sale not completed, then as above, walk away from it.

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