Rural landlords and tenants must work together collaboratively and compassionately during this unprecedented time, say the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) and Country Land and Business Association (CLA).
The call relates particularly to rent payments, notices to quit and finalising new tenancy agreements, but covers all tenancy matters, the two organisations said in a joint statement.
This means neither party should seek to take advantage of the current situation or use it as an excuse to act unreasonably.
They should consider the impact of their actions on the other and avoid taking a hard line on any issue, at what is a very difficult time, said the statement.
“It is inevitable that some tenants will struggle to meet rent payments or other tenancy obligations due to cashflow difficulties or other knock-on impacts of the coronavirus situation,” said TFA national chairman Mark Coulman.
“In these circumstances we are urging landlords and tenants to work together to agree alternative arrangements. We are already hearing of positive examples of landlords and tenants working together during this trying time.
The TFA has been helping members left in difficult situations due to coronavirus restrictions.
In one case, a conversation with a TFA member’s landlord’s agent led to agreement on a better frequency of rental payments to help cash flow and reduce the stress of having to find large sums of money upfront.
In a second, the member has decided in light of the recent events to give up farming, but he had just gone beyond the point at which he could break his tenancy.
Although the landlord had previously rejected his notice to quit, the TFA managed to negotiate its subsequent acceptance.
CLA president Mark Bridgeman said: “We have advised landlords to discuss with farming tenants any problems they are facing so that a mutual solution can be found, and we make sure farming businesses can carry on as well as possible in these difficult circumstances.
“We also suggest that, as far as possible, current disputes are put on hold and that formal proceedings for any non-payment of rent are used only as a matter of extreme last resort.”