As the end of grain harvest draws near, many landlords and tenants will be renegotiating or terminating farmland lease agreements – a process full of legal requirements, says Gerry Harrison, a Purdue Extension agricultural economist.
First and foremost, lease agreements and terminations should be in writing. "Oral leases should be avoided," he said. "There are many problems with oral leases, including what is or was the actual agreement."
In Indiana, for example, a Court of Appeals ruled that a lease termination is required to be in writing, which protects both landlord and tenant.
"It could be very risky to rely on an oral notice to terminate a lease," Harrison said. "Further, if a new leasing arrangement is needed with the existing tenant and a lease agreement does not come, the tenant, without a proper notice to quit, likely has the land for the coming year at the same rent or arrangement as the current year."
Some laws also require that a notice to quit, or terminate, a lease needs to be delivered by a landlord or tenant in a timely manner.
"Farming is a continuous process. If there is to be a new tenant, the current tenant needs to plan for the transition, and the new tenant would likely want to start preparations for the coming crop year during the late summer or the fall of a current crop year," he said.
For landlords and tenants who are renegotiating lease agreements, Harrison said it's important for both parties to have an understanding of the farmland's rental value.
"Landlords must recognize the difference in the rental value of varying farmland parcels as to size in acres and quality of the land," he said. "While crop farming has been quite profitable in recent years, an oddly shaped 30 acres is not likely to be as desirable to a tenant as a very fertile 300-acre parcel."
Some lease renegotiations might require professional help to draft an appropriate rental agreement.
Source: Purdue Extension