Farm lease notice period change begins on Oct. 1
(Editor’s note: Margaret Todd is a research assistant at the University of Maryland’s Agriculture Law Education Initiative. This is not substitute for legal advice.)
It is almost that time of year again when farm tenants and landowners may revisit their leasing agreements.
For anyone considering renewing or terminating their existing lease agreement, be aware that the Maryland General Assembly recently amended the statute to clarify the required notice periods.
Effective Oct. 1, the new language of Maryland Code Ann. Real Property Sec. 8-402, Landlord–Tenant – Nonrenewal of Lease – Notice Requirements changes the notice periods for both landlord and tenants as described below:
• Farm tenancies from year-to-year: from 6 months to 180 days before the expiration of the current year of the tenancy.
• Tobacco farm tenancies from year-to-year: from 3 months to 90 days before the expiration of the current year of the tenancy.
• Written lease for a stated term over 1 week or a tenancy from month-to-month: from 2 months to 60 days before the expiration of the tenancy. These new time frames apply automatically to all new lease agreements entered into on or after Oct. 1. Parties to a lease can always include a longer notice period in their leasing agreement if they wish, but cannot agree to a period that is shorter than the law provides.
Overall, the effort simplifies the language to reduce ambiguity when interpreting the law and overcome confusion caused by the term “month” when the number of days in a month varies.
For example, “Lenore Landowner” wants to terminate a year-to-year farm lease that expires on Nov. 15, 2022. If Lenore were subject to the 6-month notice period, the deadline might arguably be May 15, 2022, May 17, 2022, or May 19, 2022, depending on how the parties calculate the months.
Under the new provision, however, using the 180 days notice period before the lease expiration date, Lenore will have to notify the tenant regarding the decision to terminate the lease no later than May 19.
For more information about general leasing considerations, incorporating conservation practices into lease provisions, or sample templates, visit umaglaw.org/publications-library/ and click on Farm Leasing.