The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) are working together to support landlords and their farming tenants in these unparalleled times, with all sectors being impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic.
In a joint statement, the TFA and CLA, with DEFRA’s support, are appealing to all rural landlords and tenants to work together collaboratively and compassionately during this unprecedented time. The plea is made in respect of all tenancy matters, but particularly rent payments, notices to quit and finalising new tenancy agreements.
Both the TFA and CLA say neither party should seek to take advantage of the current situation or use it as an excuse to act unreasonably. Both parties should consider the impact of their actions on the other and avoid taking a hard line on any issue, at what is a very difficult time. Never has it been more important for the whole of the farming industry to focus one hundred percent on supplying the nation’s food.
CLA President Mark Bridgeman said: “We know that landowners value their relationships with tenants deeply, and we are working with CLA members to underline the importance of working closely with tenants who are experiencing difficulties due to Coronavirus. We have advised landlords to discuss with farming tenants any problems they are facing so that a mutual solution can be found, and we make sure farming businesses can carry on as well as possible in these difficult circumstances.
“We also suggest that, as far as possible, current disputes are put on hold and that formal proceedings for any non-payment of rent are used only as a matter of extreme last resort.”
TFA national chairman Mark Coulman said “It is inevitable that some tenants will struggle to meet rent payments or other tenancy obligations due to cashflow difficulties or other knock on impacts of the coronavirus situation. In these circumstances we are urging landlords and tenants to work together to agree alternative arrangements. We are already hearing of positive examples of landlords and tenants working together during this trying time.”
The TFA has been actively assisting members left in difficult situations beyond their control due to Coronavirus restrictions. In one case, a conversation with a TFA member’s landlord's agent led to agreement on a better frequency of rental payments to assist cash flow and reduce the stress of having to find large sums of money upfront.
In a second case, the member has decided in light of the recent events to give up farming, but he had just gone beyond the point at which he could break his tenancy. Although the landlord had previously rejected his notice to quit, the TFA managed to negotiate its subsequent acceptance.
“As always, communication will be vital and we would encourage dialogue between landlords and tenants, so that practical solutions can be found for any ongoing issues or any that arise during this challenging period. TFA and CLA members should contact their respective organisations for any further guidance needed,” said Mr Coulman.