Government to seek industry views on Tenant Farming Commissioner proposals

Tennet farming Thrings solicitors

A new commissioner to manage relationships between tenants and landlords in the farming sector could soon be introduced with the government having launched a call for evidence to seek input from the industry.

Seeking industry views on the extent of poor practice in the sector, the 12-week consultation will build on the Rock Review, published in October last year, which saw input from across the tenanted sector including tenants, landlords and sector professionals.

The call for evidence runs from Thursday, 16 November until 8 February 2024, with responses being requested from industry trade organisations and professional bodies representing tenant farmers, landlords and professional advisors. Sector experts and forums who have insights and experience within the industry are also being invited to contribute.

Among the areas of focus, respondents will be asked to provide feedback on:

  • The lack of communication between landlords, tenants and their advisors on key business issues such as tenancy renewal and rent reviews;
  • How to encourage more collaborative tenant-landlord and advisor relationships;
  • The effectiveness of existing industry routes to register complaints in addressing poor practice;
  • How the potential independent commissioner role could provide more scrutiny of conduct in the sector and promote codes of good practice.

Announcing the call for evidence, Farming Minister Mark Spencer described tenant farmers as being “at the heart of our rural economy” and encouraged farmers, landlords and advisors to make sure experiences from all parts of the sector are heard.

Duncan Sigournay, Thrings Head of Agriculture and farming tenancy expert, said: “For a tenant farmer, their relationship with their landlord can be critical to the success of their business since it may impact investment decisions and revenue generation on farms. It is, however, not always the simplest of relationships to manage and we often see issues arising that could be made simpler by better communication between the parties.

“It mustn’t be forgotten that many tenants have very good relationships with their landlords with many adopting collaboration over confrontation. It’s also clear that if farming is to stand any chance of meeting its net zero aspirations in the coming years the tenanted sector will need to play its part and that is more likely to happen where landlords and tenants can work together.”

“The proposed introduction of a new Tenancy Farmer Commissioner has the potential to improve often strained or broken relationships and scrutinise how the industry can improve and, as a leading legal advisor to the farming sector, Thrings will be taking a keen interest in the feedback from the government’s call for evidence once it is published.”

Thrings’ Agriculture team is one of the largest of its kind in the UK with decades of experience in successfully supporting its farming and landowner clients to achieve their aims and the potential for their business. Its lawyers are ranked in the highest tier by both the prestigious Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners directories and have been chosen by the NFU to act for its members in more countries than any other firm.

Find out more about how we can support farmers, food producers and rural communities on our Information for Farmers page.

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