As an Attorney-at-Law practicing in the parish of Manchester for over two years, I have come across several civil matters involving farm lands. Whether the issue is with the landlord or the tenant, the first thing I ask the client is, “Do you have a lease agreement?”
A lease is the contract between a landlord and a tenant. The lease sets forth the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. The lease allows the tenant to occupy and use, for a specific period of time, land and structures on that land. In return, the tenant generally pays a set rent.
I often advise farmers to have a written lease with the land owner because the lease spells out the obligations of the tenant and landlord. If there are any disputes between the tenant and the landlord, the lease represents what was agreed upon by the parties. Where there is not a written lease, there are often misunderstandings between the tenant and landlord.
Ensure that your written lease contains the following information:
- Landlord and tenant names
- Property description
- Start and stop dates
- The “consideration” (rent)
- Leases may also address permitted and prohibited uses, maintenance, repairs and improvements, farming/conservation goals and practices, renewal and termination, liability and conflict resolution.
Lease agreements differ from landlord to landlord. Therefore, it is very important to read the lease carefully before signing it. The lease is a legal document which defines the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. Both the landlord and the tenant will be held to the language of the lease. If there are provisions in the lease which you do not understand, get help. Ask someone you trust to explain what the language means or contact an Attorney-at-Law.
Abi-Gaye White-Thomas B.A., LL.B (Hons)