Tenant farmers urged to pursue farm rent reviews

The Tenant Farmers Association says tenants should be 'taking the initiative' on farm rent reviews
The Tenant Farmers Association says tenants should be 'taking the initiative' on farm rent reviews

Tenant farmers are being advised to consider whether they should be pursuing a farm rent review as the UK's transition period deadline nears.

Most farm tenancies in the UK contain provisions for a rent review that can be used by either landlords or tenants.

But whilst rent review activity has been low in recent years, farmers are now being advised that now is the time to take the initiative.

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) warns there could be major disruption in agricultural markets after the transition period ends, on 31 December 2020.

Because of this, it has urged farm tenants to think about protecting themselves in that scenario.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn said “Farm tenants are usually understandably nervous about instigating a rent review. In most cases it is landlords who take the initiative.

"However, serving a formal notice to kickstart the rent review process is a simple procedure which tenants can do for themselves with ease."

The TFA said the rental position of each farm needed to be looked at and compared with other rents being paid in similar situations to decide whether a rent cut is a possibility.

The group added that landlords were continuing to resist reductions, but some rent reductions were beginning to feed through.

Mr Dunn said: "This includes a recent arbitration award which provided a rent reduction. In that case, the landlord was advised by a national firm of land agents arguing for a substantial rent increase.

"Farm tenants must not feel bullied or pressurised into accepting what landlords’ agents argue for,” he added.

Only a very small proportion of rent reviews end up at arbitration, and arbitration can be a stressful and costly experience.

Before serving notices, tenants can take out insurance against the costs of going to arbitration, even when they will serve the notice.

Mr Dunn said: "Often, having insurance means that landlords settle more quickly and better than they would otherwise have done, knowing that tenants have the means to take reasonable cases all the way if necessary.

“All farm tenants should consider their position and take advice about how to proceed.”