RICS Farm Business Tenancy Agreements
Since the introduction of the original suite of Farm Business Tenancy Agreements (FBTA), there have been a number of updates with the most recent in 2012, 2014, 2016 and February 2020.
The 2014 and 2016 updates primarily accounted for the introduction of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) in place of the Single Payment Scheme (SPS), the associated changes to related environmental schemes and the abolition of milk quotas, as well as other changes such as the availability of the new model clauses as an alternative set of provisions concerning repairs and insurance.
See the supplemental user notes for guidance on the February 2020 suite.
The February 2020 updates were primarily to take account of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. A further review of the agreements will be undertaken once the terms of the Agriculture Bill 2019–21 have been settled and enacted.
The 2020 FBTA suite includes:
- Fixed Term Agreement 2020
- Year to Year Agreement 2020
- Short Form Agreement (2 years or less) for bare land 2020
- Short Form Agreement (2 years or less) land with buildings but no dwellings 2020
- Cropping Licence 2020
- Grazing Licence 2020
The entire suit is accessible from here.
The suite of Agreements are maintained and updated by the Agricultural Tenancies Monitoring Group.
In June 2020, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government published a Code of Practice for commercial property relationships during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consultees included the RICS and the other rural sector organisations that are members of TRIG (the Tenancy Reform Industry Group), which reports to Defra on matters impacting the agricultural tenancy sector.
The code, which is voluntary, applies to all commercial leases held by businesses that have been seriously negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis – whether, for example, in the hospitality, retail, leisure, office, industrial and logistics, ports, or rural sectors – but it is expected that the hospitality, leisure and parts of the retail sectors will have most need of it. Businesses in the agricultural sector may also want to consider the principles included, while acknowledging the differing legal framework for agricultural tenancies.
The code, and the signatories' support of it, will apply until 24 June 2021. RICS is one of the signatories to the code, together with other rural sector organisations.
RICS members who use the suite of FBT agreements should familiarise themselves with the code and be aware of its principles.
RICS members should also be aware of the moratorium on possession and forfeiture proceedings for non-payment of rent and other breaches of contract that is in place because of the COVID-19 crisis. The relevant civil procedure rule is here. Where relevant, RICS members and/or their clients should seek appropriate specialist legal advice.