New farm tenancy code

New farm tenancy code

The government’s response to the Rock Review of the agricultural tenanted sector, on which we previously reported here and here, has been advanced considerably by the publication by the Farm Tenancy Form (FTF) of the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Code of Practice for England.

In the accompanying press release, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP, says that the tenanted sector is a central part of the government’s work to back British farmers and grow the rural economy and that the aim of the Code of Practice, is to ensure the tenanted sector continues to thrive.

The Code of Practice was produced by an expert working group made of representatives from the industry bodies that are members of the FTF. Those include the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and our Mark Sanders is the RICS representative on the FTF and has been actively involved in the production of the Code of Practice.

The Code of Practice is voluntary and only applies to England. However, it carries considerable weight and has been formally endorsed by all the FTF organisations. It sets out the conduct and behaviour expected of landlords and tenants and all those advising and acting for them in their dealings with each other during the course of an agricultural tenancy. The RICS has said that it hopes its members and firms will adopt the Code of Conduct and embrace the good behaviours outlined within it and that RICS Regulation, which deals with complaints made against RICS members,  will also be mindful of the existence of the Code of Practice and will take due note of what best practice looks like. Further, it has said that if it receives any evidence of bad behaviours being displayed which need to be addressed which are not currently covered by the RICS Rules of Conduct and other professional standards, it would urgently consider the creation of a mandatory Professional Standard for the UK for this area of practice.

In addition to the Code of Practice, another of the Rock Review recommendations is for the appointment of a Tenant Farming Commissioner for England. Following a call for evidence, Defra is actively considering the responses it received and what a tenant farming commissioner’s remit would be if one is appointed.

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