Watch out for unreasonable farm tenancy terms

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has joined forces with Davis Meade Property Consultants to warn farm tenants to look carefully at all clauses within new Farm Business Tenancy Agreements to avoid being tied to unreasonable or costly commitments.

TFA chief executive, George Dunn said “We often have cases where tenants are surprised by the impact of certain clauses within their tenancy agreements once they have signed them. At that point it is too late to do much about it. It is vital that tenants seek advice about the terms of their agreements before they are signed.”

Philip Meade from Davis Meade Property Consultants said, “We are seeing a rise in the number of FBT agreements containing clauses which either provide the landlord with unreasonable rights or provide the tenant with significant liabilities. One such clause which we have seen recently is the ability for a landlord to recover legal costs from a tenant for merely contemplating bringing an action against the tenant. It is essential that tenants seeking to take on additional land go through their agreements with a fine tooth comb in order to weed out clauses which might cause a problem in the future.”

It has become the usual practice for landlords’ agents to use standardised agreements when drawing up new farm business tenancies, rather than putting together agreements which best fit the circumstances of the relationship envisaged between the landlord and tenant.

“The use of standard agreements by landlords’ agents is both lazy and dangerous. Any additional cost incurred at the beginning of an agreement to ensure that it is drafted on a bespoke basis for the circumstances of each case would be dwarfed by the potential expenses incurred in trying to unpick matters at a later stage when it was found that the agreement was not fit for purpose,” said Mr Dunn.

“Taking the time to check through the terms of tenancy agreements is vital. Tenants need to be assured that their tenancy agreements fit with their plans, match their aspirations and protect their investments,” said Mr Meade.

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.