TFA assesses landlords’ response to Covid-19 rent problems

Most landlords have acted reasonably towards tenants facing difficulties paying rent as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, but there have been some “notable exceptions”, according to the Tenant Farmers’ Association (TFA).

With many farm businesses acutely affected by the crisis, a number of members have reported issues paying rents in a survey by the organisation to gauge the extent of such problems – along with the response of landlords.

See also: Agriculture Bill proposes significant changes to tenancies

“The initial results confirm what our anecdotal evidence has suggested – that most people, while they have had some difficulty, have managed to make arrangements for rent to be paid,” said TFA chief executive George Dunn. “There is, however, a significant minority who are struggling.

“The loss of the hospitality and food service market was a massive blow to those involved in these supply chains, as prices fell and perishable products had no viable outlets.

“Also, individual farm businesses with public-facing diversification activities saw their incomes slashed.”

Reasonable

In terms of the approach taken by landlords, although most have been “reasonable”, with some agreeing to reschedule or to even waive rent payments, there have been a “few notable exceptions who have been difficult”, suggested Mr Dunn.

“There are tenants who are saying they do anticipate some difficulty in finding money for the rent this autumn, but there is probably as much concern about the weather impact as there is about Covid-19.”

Such considerations will set the scene for a “regearing” of rents in 2021 and beyond, as the nation leaves the European Union and transitions away from the Basic Payments Scheme, added Mr Dunn.

“Tenants are looking to the future, knowing they’re really going to have to nail their rents down to the floor if they’re to have successful farming businesses.

“This means significantly lower rents – particularly on farm business tenancies.”

The TFA’s farm rent survey – the results of which will be used anonymously and collectively – is still available for tenants to complete.

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