Council tenants rent battle joy
TENANT farmer David Stafford has won a prolonged battle with Glos County Council to reduce his rent.
Mr Stafford believed it was fair to request a reduction in rent, given the decreasing returns from his dairy herd. But the council disagreed and the matter went to arbitration.
With the assistance of local land agent Carver Knowles, the ruling went in favour of the farmer and Mr Staffords rent was reduced from £60/acre to £50 – a fall of 16%.
Despite warnings it would be wasting taxpayers money, the council took the case to appeal, where once again it was defeated.
Mr Stafford used an insurance policy issued by the Tenant Farmers Association that covers rent arbitration costs to fund the £50,000 it cost to proceed with the action.
"I would not have been able to take on the council and risk running up a potentially hefty legal bill without the policy," he said.
George Dunn, of the TFA, added: "This insurance helps tenants stand eye-to-eye with landlords who often have far greater financial resources."
James Benham, head of the councils rural services, claimed it had a duty to get the best returns for taxpayers. "We have reduced the rents for many of our tenants, but in this case it was felt the rent was already low compared to other holdings on the estate."
However, Mr Dunn said the council was probably more concerned that by reducing the rent it would set a precedent for the estates 140 other tenanted farms. *