The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) is urging all landlords of farmland to step back from pushing higher rents during this year’s farm rent reviews.
While farm rent reviews can occur at any time of the year, they are traditionally grouped around February/March and September/October and notices for these reviews would have been served at least 12 months prior to the review date.
TFA chief executive George Dunn said “With many notices served last year now coming to fruition, we are beginning to see some landlords seeking to increase farm rents. However, the uncertainty of the next few years should be signalling a steady as you go approach. Any dialogue between landlords and tenants would be better spent on working jointly to consider how to meet the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.”
With 29 March 2019 being the likely date that the UK will leave the European Union, it would be more sensible to postpone discussions about rents until the autumn of next year or the spring of the year following.
“We have some indication of how the Government intends to allow a period of transition beyond the point we leave the European Union, but nothing is guaranteed at this stage. The UK is entering into some tricky negotiations with the European Union and until we have an agreed settlement covering all of the separation issues, predicting future profitability of the industry, with any degree of certainty, will be impossible. Therefore, it is best to park discussions on rent until later in 2019 at the earliest,” said Mr Dunn.
“That is not to say that landlords and tenants should not be in dialogue at this time. Indeed for such a time as this, it is vitally important that landlords and tenants stay engaged,” said Mr Dunn.
The TFA was particularly pleased to see the Duchy of Cornwall put on specially arranged seminars for its farm tenants focusing on farm business planning within the post Brexit environment.
“The TFA applauds initiatives like that of the Duchy of Cornwall and we would encourage other landlords, particularly institutional landlords, to take a lead from this. There is more to be gained at this stage by working together on shared outcomes than fighting over the level of rent. Both landlords and tenants should have an interest in ensuring the sustainability of the farm businesses upon which they both rely and that goes much beyond the level of rent being paid,” said Mr Dunn.