The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has criticised a small minority of land agents for pressing for substantial rent hikes ahead of the UK’s exit from Europe.
The organisation’s chief executive George Dunn said most landlords appreciated it was wrong to negotiate rent rises in the climate of uncertainty surrounding Brexit.
“With Brexit now just a year away, the right time to be looking at farm rents would be autumn 2019 or spring 2020,” Mr Dunn said.
But some were taking the opposite view and looking to secure long-term rises of as much as 10-15% before Brexit hit, he said.
Many of these are looking to tie in tenants to high rates until 2021.
“They are basing claims on increases in residential values but the level is completely unsustainable,” Mr Dunn said.
He also claimed in a small number of cases land agents had been driving a wedge between tenants on large estates by agreeing a rent rise with one and then using it as a comparable figure for the rest.
“It is hugely important for all tenants on an estate to stick together in these circumstances or they will find they are all increasingly pressured to accept rent rises,” Mr Dunn said.
It is hugely important for all tenants on an estate to stick together in these circumstances or they will find they are all increasingly pressured to accept rent rises George Dunn, TFA
He advised anyone faced with a claim for a comparable rent to obtain all the information they could about the other farm.
The TFA has heard some landlords are reluctant to divulge details of the other farm in the comparison.
“But this is unacceptable. It has to be like-for-like to make it a worthwhile comparison and otherwise cannot form the basis of a negotiation,” Mr Dunn said.
The TFA is also urging members not to be pressured into making deals because of a looming rent review date.
“The rent review date is only the point at which either the landlord and tenant have to agree or an application has been made for the appointment of an arbitrator,” Mr Dunn advised.
The application for an appointment of an arbitrator does not mean the dispute will proceed to arbitration.
In well over 90% of the cases where an arbitrator is appointed, rents are still agreed between the parties. The application for the appointment merely extends the time available for thorough negotiations, he suggested.