Rental mania despite SFP

DEMAND FOR long-term farm tenancies does not seem to have been dented by CAP reform if the interest in a farm available to rent from the National Trust is anything to go by.

“We are absolutely manic, it is extraordinary, our answer-phone system actually crashed over the weekend,” said Andrew Brown of Marriots, which is handling the rental of Kilmester Farm at Easton Hastings in Oxfordshire. The farm was advertised on Friday (Jan 21) and more than 120 people had telephoned by Monday, he said.

Mr Brown said he was surprised that interest was so great in light of the uncertainty surrounding the imminent introduction of the single farm payment, but said the length of the term on offer, the farm”s location and a lack of similar opportunities probably explained the flood of requests for details of the 471-acre mixed unit.

The National Trust is prepared to consider a farm business tenancy of up to 20 years, said Mr Brown. “People from all over the country have commented on that.” The property also comes with two houses that can be part of or excluded from any agreement on the farmland, he added.

One of the houses is a substantial five-bedroom period residence that would have a rental value of over 25,000 a year, said Mr Brown. This could add appeal for lifestyle farmers but a smaller three-bedroom farm cottage, worth about 9000 a year, might be more realistic for commercial farmers, he reckoned.

No entitlement to historic single farm payments is included with the land – although the outgoing tenant might be prepared to transfer them – but this has been part of the attraction for some, said Mr Brown. “A lot of the enquiries have come from people with historic entitlements who need land to claim it on.”

He said he was expecting offers for the land of 20/acre up to 60/acre. “It will be interesting to see if people with historic entitlement are prepared to give up some of their premium to get land on which to claim it.”

Even so, the rent is still likely to be significantly below the values achieved in the area before support payments were decoupled. “Last year I was letting land for 70-90/acre depending on quality,” said Mr Marriot.

Interested parties will need to include a business plan for the farm, taking into account the environmental and public access policies of the National Trust, when submitting tenders and the closing date is Feb 18.

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