20 March 1998
Unlawful rent rises forced on tenants
By Farmers Weekly staff
TENANTS on traditional tenancies are being pushed into unlawful rent rises by some landlords, including certain county councils, who are using higher farm business tenancy rental values as a lever.
The 1986 Agricultural Holdings Act (which governs traditional tenancies) and the 1995 Agricultural Tenancies Act (FBTs) contain very different rent review procedures, and cannot lawfully be compared for review purposes, says Jeanette Dennis of Cambridge-based law firm Taylor Vinters.
Average rents under old Act tenancies range from £45 to £80/acre, she explains. The basis of old Act review procedure is very restrictive, protecting tenants from big rent rises, much to the chagrin of some landlords.
FBT rents are higher because they are more “open market” and contain no such protection, says Miss Dennis. Rents may range from £150 to £180/acre for agreements of two years or more.
Therein lies the temptation. “It is easy to tell an old Act tenant, who is paying £80/acre, that his neighbour with an FBT is farming the same land over the hedge, but is perhaps paying twice as much rent.
“The land agent may then suggest a figure of £100/acre as a fair compromise. The tenant believes he is getting a good deal, but if the review was challenged the basis would be wholly unacceptable,” says Miss Dennis.
“Tenants should hold out, ignore threats of arbitration, and seek advice.”
For this and other stories, see Farmers Weekly, 20-26 March, 1998