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Farmers to benefit from longer tenancies, says George Eustice

Tenant farmers may soon be able to benefit from more secure, longer tenancies thanks to the work of the Tenancy Reform Industry Group (TRIG).


Abi   Kay

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Farmers to benefit from longer tenancies, says Eustice

This summer, Farming Minister George Eustice reconvened the group, which has tenant, landlord, agent and lawyer representation, to ask it to look at how tenancy law could be improved in preparation for Brexit.

 

The resulting TRIG report contains a number of recommendations which Mr Eustice has promised to consider.

 

“I have always been interested in whether we could do more to look again at the issue of tenancy law”, he told the Tenant Farmers’ Association conference.

 

“Last time it was looked at properly was in 1995 with the introduction of Farm Business Tenancies (FBTs) under William Waldegrave and no one has really looked at it in-depth since.

 

“There is a very interesting package of measures which came from TRIG, and we are now looking carefully at it.


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Tenancy reforms namechecked by the Minister

  • Requiring local authorities to put together strategic plans for the future of their farm estates, with help and possibly financial support from Defra
  • Allowing Agricultural Holdings Act (AHA) tenancies to be legally converted to fixed-term assignable tenancies, giving new entrants an opportunity to enter the industry
  • Giving landlords an incentive to invest by allowing them to ringfence any return on their spend
  • Giving landlords an alternative to forfeiture, which courts are reluctant to grant if tenants allow farms to fall into a state of disrepair. It is hoped this will encourage landlords to offer longer-term tenancies

 

“If we get this right, with a few minor tweaks to law, we could start to get to a position where you have a much more cohesive, vibrant offer through county farms, to help new entrants get in.

 

“And by having these changes to both FBTs and AHA tenancies, we could potentially open up a greater flow of progression farms, where people move on from county farms to alternative tenancy arrangements where they have greater security of tenure.

 

“We could do all of this in a way in which landowners are keen to invest.”

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