2 July 2001
Tenant wins rent cut case
By FWi staff
TENANT farmers will take heart from the outcome of a court case between a Gloucestershire-based dairy farmer and his landlord Gloucestershire County Council.
Producer David Stafford felt, given the decreasing returns from his business, it was fair to request a reduction in rent.
The county council however, 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 his rent was reduced from 60 to 50/acre – a decrease of 16%.
Despite warnings they would be wasting taxpayers money the council refused to give in and took the case to appeal, where once again they were defeated.
Mr Stafford was able to proceed with the action, which cost 50,000, using an insurance policy designed to cover rent arbitration costs from the Tenant Farmers Association.
He said that without the policy he would not have been able to take on the county council and risk running up a potentially hefty legal bill.
“This insurance helps tenants stand eye-to-eye with landlords who often have far greater financial resources,” pointed out the TFAs George Dunn.
Commenting on the CCs decision to pursue the issue, head of rural services James Benham claimed the council had a duty to get the best returns for taxpayers.
“We have already reduced the rents for many of our tenants but in this case it was felt that the rent was already low compared to other holdings on the estate.”
However, Mr Dunn believes the organisation was probably more worried that by reducing the rent it would set a precedent for the estates 140 other tenanted farms.
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