2 February 1996

Tenancies Act doing its stuff, TFAis assured

By Tony McDougal

EVIDENCE that the Agricultural Tenancies Act is creating more movement in the land market was presented at the recent Tenant Farmers Association agm.

The TFA announced results of a survey, which showed that over 50 farm business tenancies have been advertised since the Act came into force on Sept 1 last year.

Over half of the advertised FBTs have been for terms of at least 10 years, with the major landlords – such as the National Trust, Crown Estates and Duchy of Cornwall – offering terms of up to 20 years.

Reg Haydon, TFA chairman, said the results had been very encouraging, particularly as the devaluation in the green £ had led to an unfavourable rise in rents over the past two years.

"The results have been encouraging. Over 50 were advertised nationally this autumn, with many more contracted privately, which compares favourably with six in the equivalent period last year.

"Clearly, the new Act has encouraged some landlords to make land available for longer periods than was inevitably the case under the former short-term arrangements."

Positive view

This positive view was shared by Jeremy Moody, Central Association of Agricultural Valuers consultant, who said the industry was taking advantage of the additional flexibility of the new legislation to bring forward units of all types and size.

Mr Moody hinted the CAAV annual survey, to be released in the next fortnight, would show an increase in farm lettings in September and October because of the Agricultural Tenancies Act.

However, he stressed it was important to draw in landowners who had historically not let out land for the sector to grow.

Shadow farm spokesman Gavin Strang was less optimistic about the success of the Act, saying he was concerned that it could lead to farms becoming fragmented.

Presenting the key-note speech at the annual meeting, Dr Strang said Labour would judge the legislation on the basis of the number of additional farms which would be let on long-term tenancies, and he reiterated the point that the Party would not legislate retrospectively.

"We will not alter contracts entered into under this law. Any legislation enacted by a Labour government will apply only to tenancies granted after such new legislation comes into force."

Dr Strang won support from delegates for his call for MAFF to set in place machinery to monitor the agricultural tenancies Act adequately.

He said that there was no evidence, despite earlier assurances, that MAFF was planning to obtain information on the success or failure of the four-month-old Act.

Reg Haydon, TFAchairman: Encouraged by movement in the land market.