Relationships between landlords and tenants are deteriorating because of aggressive behaviour from landlords’ agents which has tripled rents for some farmers, according to the Tenant Farmers’ Association.
The TFA said it has had regular reports of landlords’ agents using tactics which are causing ‘unnecessary distress and worry’ to farm tenants.
Farm rent reviews have been a source of much conflict, with the group claiming agents are driving rents to unsustainable levels.
TFA chief executive George Dunn said: “Too often we see landlords’ agents seeking to introduce open market rents into reviews of rent on traditional holdings let under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986, where the review process deliberately avoids consideration of the open market to produce a level of rent which is affordable for the tenant and fair to the landlord.
“TFA members are often left reeling when they receive correspondence suggesting rent levels double or triple what they are currently paying using this flawed approach.”
Agents are also said to be hiking tenants’ rents by adding the value of farmhouses to agreements.
They do this by creating a pre-rent financial return, to be split between the landlord and tenant, based upon the earning capacity of the holding. A separate amount for the farmhouse is then added to the landlord’s share of the return, which can see them take 90 per cent or more of the total profit of the farming enterprise.
Mr Dunn said: “Arbitrators need to take a strong line against these practices to ensure they are stamped out. It is completely unreasonable to expect a tenant to survive on 10 per cent or less of the financial return from farming the holding, which is what we regularly see argued and is certainly not supported by the legislation.”
Farm business tenancies, which are governed separately by the Agricultural Tenancies Act, were also criticised by the TFA for their short-term nature which prevents tenants from being able to build resilience with Brexit on the horizon.
“We are sure a major part of the problem is the lack of imagination amongst many landlords’ agents and a tendency to replicate the standard practice of offering short-term agreements on standard terms rather than thinking long-term and drawing up bespoke agreements”, Mr Dunn said.