24 May 2002

Stick-in-the-mud landlords? Never…

CLAIMS by the Country Land and Business Association that landlords are encouraging tenant diversification have been branded a "sweeping generalisation" by the Tenant Farmers Association.

A survey commissioned by the CLA found that 96% of landlords questioned would grant consent for diversification schemes if asked by their tenants, and 43% of them had already given the go ahead to diversified businesses.

While disagreeing with the validity of the figures, George Dunn, TFA chief executive, said he was not surprised. "Of the 79 landlords surveyed many would be large institutions, such as the Crown Estate, who tend to look more favourably on their tenants proposals. This survey has only scratched the surface of the landowners represented by the CLA. "Our principal concern is with the small private estates advised by large national firms of agents who tend to take a harder line. There are a substantial number of tenants who would not be allowed to diversify."

But Oliver Harwood, head of rural economy at the CLA, staunchly defended the findings. "It was an absolutely random survey that covered the whole country." He also claimed the recent DEFRA-backed farm business tenancy evaluation from the University of Plymouth mirrored the results.

"According to their study, 34% of landlords had been approached about a diversification idea. Of these 82% had granted conditional consent and 18% open consent. To me that suggests a wholly reasonable and positive attitude.

"It simply wouldnt make sense for a landowner to refuse consent to a tenants proposal that will go to increase the rental and capital value of the holding." &#42