Tenant farmers must not settle on rents, TFA warns

Tenant farmers must not feel pressurised into settling on rent reviews if an arbitrator has been appointed, the Tenant Farmers Association has warned.

A large number of 2012 rent reviews remained unsettled, in particular Farm Business Tenancies, and many had gone to arbitration, the TFA said.

In these instances, tenants must not be concerned as the appointment of an arbitrator simply marks the lengthening of the negotiation period, the TFA said.

In some cases landlords were seeking unsustainable rent increases and some land agents were accused of using bullying tactics, said TFA chief executive George Dunn.

“There is strong evidence that settlements are being achieved at reasonable levels when both sides are well advised and there is a will to resolve issues in a proportionate manner,” he said.

“The worry is that a number of agents are badly advising their landlord clients. They are pursuing unsustainable rent increases and using tactics which are to the detriment of good, long-term landlord/tenant relationships.”

NFU tenants’ national spokesman David King reiterated Mr Dunn’s concern, following communication from members who said landlords were looking for significant rent increases following this autumn’s review.

“Harvest costs will have been higher than they have been in many years and the costs being incurred now by farmers to re-drill land are also higher due to time taken and delays due to the continuing wet weather,” said Mr King.

“The livestock sector will be facing far higher feed costs and it has been very clear to everyone the pressure experienced by dairy farmers with the farmgate milk prices.”

CLA interim chief surveyor Tim Woodward said: “It’s certainly not in the interest of landlords to force up rents to the point where tenants run the risk of being run out of business.”

FBTs were driven by market rent figures and it was hoped the market would realign itself to take into account the difficult harvest conditions this year, he said.

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