Farm Tenancy: Letter Template Available to Timely Terminate Verbal Farm Rental Arrangements

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Though empirical data is lacking, it is believed that a majority of farmland acres in North Carolina are rented under a verbal arrangement between farmer and landowner. Such arrangements – while certainly convenient – pose a number of risks to both parties. From the farmer’s perspective, the window for planting cover or winter crops for the following Spring may be early enough to allow a landowner to still legally terminate the tenancy with proper notice. From the landowner’s perspective, plans for disposition of real property (such as taking advantage of a lucrative sale offer) can be disrupted by the inadvertent rollover of a verbal tenancy into the following year that was not timely terminated according to state law.

A termination letter template regarding verbal farm rental arrangements – where a farm tenant farms your land by verbal permission only – is available in the Farm Transition and Succession tab. The goal of this template is to promote written clarity of farm tenancy arrangements in the state, to protect both the landowner’s interests and the farmer’s interest in continuing the tenancy on clear terms. Under North Carolina law, farmers in most counties (see below) enjoy statutory protection to harvest and gather crops up to January 1. However, such tenancies roll over to the following year if not terminated within 30 days of their statutory end (i.e. by end of November).

This template letter may be used to advise a farm tenant, who is farming the land on an oral agreement (without a written lease), that their tenancy will end at the end of the year. Under North Carolina law (N.C.G.S. §42-14) an annual tenancy must be terminated no less than thirty (30) days prior to the end of the tenancy. By law in North Carolina, agricultural tenancies run from January 1 to January 1, so notice must be received by the tenant no later than November 30. HOWEVER, in certain counties, N.C.G.S. §42-23, mandates that verbal agricultural tenancies run from December 1 to December 1 to December 1, so notice must be received by the tenant no later than October 31. Such is applicable to the following counties:  Alamance, Anson, Ashe, Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Gaston, Greene, Hoke, Jones, Lenoir, Lincoln, Montgomery, Onslow, Pender, Person, Pitt, Robeson, Sampson, Wayne and Yadkin. The attached template can be modified depending on which county the parcel is located.

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