Farmers urged to consider new proposals on tenant farming

The government is seeking to modernise and update farm tenancy legislation
The government is seeking to modernise and update farm tenancy legislation

Farmers and landlords have a 'key opportunity' to consider new government proposals on the future of the agricultural tenanted sector.

The 12-week consultations stemming from the work of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG) aim to to secure the future of the UK agricultural tenanted sector.

The proposed changes to the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 are intended to provide legislative support to the developing policy in the sector.

It could mean a big overhaul for the sector in England and Wales, from changes to succession rights to removing investment barriers and introducing short notices to quit.

Many in the sector are hoping the proposals will encourage landlords and tenants to have closer working relationships in future in order to improve productivity.

Mike Holland, secretary and adviser to the Agricultural Law Association (ALA), said farmers need to consider whether the proposals 'assist or impede' progress in the tenanted sector.

“Much of the focus has been on the people who manage holdings since TRIG 2017 and moving forward maximising the outcome from any new support regimes will need greater cohesion between landlord and tenant.

“It’s vital that professionals respond to the consultations to ensure the new legislation meets the sector’s needs,” he said.

'We need a culture change'

Besides future support policies, developing better relationships between both parties could mean having more frequent progress reviews about the holding rather than just the three-yearly rent review.

Mr Holland added: “If this is a rare occurrence now, it needs to change, whether through legislation or pure industry best practice.

“We need a culture change - the adoption of an annual tenant/landlord meeting, with a constructive and co-operative approach at its heart, could unlock much-needed improvements – beyond the legislative changes.”

When it comes to establishing new tenancies or reviewing old ones, it’s also a good idea to encourage clients to go a bit further than signing up to an ‘off the shelf’ agreement, said Mr Holland.

“In many cases this has been the easiest and most cost-effective means of agreement. However, exploring the long-term objectives of the parties may result in a more bespoke arrangement to reflect these. There is no one size to fit all approach,” he said.

It might be the case that other agreements are required to operate alongside tenancies, for example, a joint venture, contract farming agreement or lease for diversification.

The deadline for responses to be submitted is 2 July.