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Landlords' long-term planning falls short.

ENGLISH and Welsh farm tenancies are not providing the long-term security that tenants need, it's been claimed.

The Tenant Farmers Association's (TFA) chairman Greg Bliss outlined some of the problems being faced by the sector in a speech to rural lawyers from across the Continent at the start of the 2009 Congress of the European Council for Rural Law, held at Queen's College, Cambridge.

He told the meeting that despite halting the year-on-year decline in the amount of let land that was being seen before the introduction of Farm Business Tenancies in 1995, there were "painfully few" opportunities for new agreements in England and Wales.

"Last year only 8.5% of lettings were of both land and buildings and less than 8% included houses, leaving 84% of lettings as bare land," said Mr Bliss.

"On top of this, with an average length of term of only three and a half years on those tenancies that are being offered, there seems to be little if any long-term thinking among landlords and their advisers."

He praised the landlord-tenant system for providing an excellent framework to provide innovation, business acumen and a combined drive for improvement by both parties.

But he added: "If landlords and their advisors continue to look short term these ends will not be met.

"What we need are landlords interested in promoting long-term sustainability, advisers who are seeking to facilitate sustainable businesses and tenants who are prepared to share fairly the rewards of farming their holdings."

Taxation issues surrounding land management decisions is one of the problems that need to be addressed to solve short-term thinking, he said.

"It remains the case that it is more tax efficient to remain an owner occupier, even when you do not possess the required skills, than it is to grant a lease to a tenant farmer who does possess those skills," said Mr Bliss.

"It is a major disappointment that despite the agreement that exists on the fiscal changes that should be implemented, as expressed through the Tenancy Reform Industry Group, the Government fails to recognise the need for change."


MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT Greg Bliss, chairman of the TFA.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 26, 2009
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