Written by Legal Record Webmaster   
Wednesday, 10 September 2008 12:28
By Pete Fandel

As fall harvest approaches, landowners and tenants start thinking about the next  crop year, and one of the major decisions is the farm rental agreement. The farmland owner may want to change some provisions of the existing lease, or the tenant realizes he or she expects to lose money with the existing agreement and would like to renegotiate the terms of the lease. Therefore, when should farm lease changes be made?
According to Dr. Don Uchtmann, Professor of Agricultural Law at the University of Illinois, most year to year farmland leases are presumed to begin on March 1 and end on the last day of  February. Since Illinois Statutes require at least a 4-month notice for termination, October 31 is the last day to give notice to terminate an existing farm lease, in most cases. For many leases, the current lease terms are automatically renewed if there is no timely notice of termination by either the landowner or tenant. Therefore, if either party wishes to terminate an existing annual lease, notice must be given by the above date.
Illinois law requires that a written termination notice must be given for either a written or verbal lease. The statute provides that the notice may be served by delivering a written copy to the tenant or landlord, or by leaving the notice with some person of at least 13 years of age residing on or in possession of the premises. Also, a copy of the notice can be sent to the tenant or landlord by certified or registered mail. If no one is actually in possession of the farm, the notice can be posted on the premises.
An example of language that can be used for the termination notice is included in the statute. The example is given for a landlord giving notice to the tenant, but modification can be made for a notice from tenant to landlord.
If the year to year lease is in writing and it specifies a different notice period, the notice period of the written lease usually prevails. A different notice period agreed to orally is not effective, but, instead, the 4-month statutory notice period will govern.
Terminating a farm lease can have many legal implications. Therefore, contact an attorney before sending a notice to terminate a lease.
Pete Fandel is Crop Systems Educator, University of Illinois Extension – Woodford Unit, PO Box 162, 117 West Center, Eureka, IL 61530; Phone: 309-467-3789  Fax: 309-467-6034

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