Tony Rimmer, of law firm Rostons, has said his firm was seeing an increasing number of farm tenants whose landlords were “out of touch with reality”, seeking unfair levels of rent which could, in some cases, make their businesses untenable.
As reported by Olivia Midgley of the Farmers’ Guardian, some landlords are seeking to increase rents by separating the value of a farm house from the rest of the farm.
As the Farmers Guardian reported last week, landlords and their agents were being warned to ‘back off’ struggling farm tenants due to the volatility circling the industry. Mr Rimmer has said that dairy farmers struggling with milk price cuts were being particularly affected.
He has said: “In a number of cases, increases on dairy farms of up to 20 per cent are being sought and this is 20 per cent from a review which took place three years ago.
“One avenue landlords are referring to is recent lettings which will be under Farm Business Tenancies and wishing to separate out the value of the house. For a secure 1986 Act tenancy, both these routes fly in the face of the legislation.”
This news comes as the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) called on landlords to extend a lifeline to their dairy farming tenants by offering a rental holiday or a rent rebate.
STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson has said:
“I would call on landlords to show their commitment to the dairy industry and rural communities on their estates by offering support to these hard pressed tenant farmers. The milk crisis is largely due to short term over production and will resolve itself over time, but in the meantime dairy farmers are in trouble and in need of assistance.
“When milk prices are buoyant, rent increases have been sought, now, when the price of milk is on the floor, landlords should be thinking of offering short term rent rebates.”
The National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (NFYFC) has teamed up with NatWest Bank and property agents Savills to offer Young Farmers free advice about Farm Business Tenancies and Agricultural Holdings Act (AHA) tenancies.
A spokesman for the NFYFC says that “many farmers are facing financial problems and it is important for young farmers to ‘seize the opportunity to take steps to protect their land and their business”.