Survey reveals bleak relations between landlords and tenant farmers

The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has published the results of a survey of tenant farmers that paints a bleak picture of the relationships between landlords and tenants within the agricultural sector.

The survey concludes that many tenant farmers feel disrespected by their landlords or landlords’ representatives, often ignored and at worst harassed and bullied.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said, “It was particularly shocking to find that 30% of respondents to the survey felt ‘bullied or harassed’ by their landlords and that this statistic rose to 37% in dealing with landlords’ agents and representatives. Tenant farmers are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of their holdings, and it is completely unacceptable in this day and age for anybody to feel either bullied or harassed by their landlords or their agents. It is bad enough that 40% of respondents felt ignored by their landlords and that 70% of tenants responding didn’t even meet with their landlords on a regular basis. These metrics need to change without delay.”

Respondents to the survey were also given the opportunity to provide their own, free text comments. Over a quarter of those who responded chose to do so.

Dunn said, “Although, on the one hand, the statistics generated from the survey tell a sorry story by themselves, it was the scores of comments provided by respondents that really hit hard. They demonstrate just how difficult tenant farmers are finding their relationships with their landlords and with their landlords’ representatives. There is clearly a huge distance to travel before tenant farmers feel that they are being treated fairly, reasonably and with respect. Having been a member of Baroness Kate Rock’s agricultural tenancy working group, which received a raft of similar evidence, I am not surprised, but it is hugely disappointing.”

The survey was conducted by the TFA to feed into the call for evidence issued by DEFRA on the potential role for a new Tenant Farming Commissioner as recommended by the report of the Rock Review.

Dunn said, “There is no doubt of the need for both a robust Code of Practice for the landlord tenant sector and a new Tenant Farming Commissioner, as recommended by the Rock Review. There was almost a unanimous view from respondents that both initiatives would be massively helpful in improving landlord tenant relationships. I very much hope that DEFRA will listen to these heartfelt views and doesn’t delay any further in taking the actions that are necessary to set relationships within the sector on a better trajectory.

“Although these results stem from a survey of a few hundred tenant farmers, they do indicate that there is a lot to do to reach the aspiration set out within the report of the Rock Review, which was to see a greater degree of collaboration within the landlord tenant sector of agriculture. Landlords and landlords’ representatives need to be more openhanded, available to meet and reasonable in their approach. Fairness and mutual respect must be the hallmarks of these relationships going forward.”

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