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The lease of a French farming property

Photo: M. Tobias Schaeffer (Flickr, licence CC, modified).

The lease of a farming property in France can be carried out according to the conditions of the tenancy status or those of the long-term lease which are both defined in the Rural Code.

The tenancy status

Tenancy is the "provision in return for payment of property for agricultural use with a view to farming". Defined by the Rural Code (his passage is taken from Article L411-1 of said Code) and various prefectoral orders, the tenancy status fixes the respective rights and obligations of the lessor owners and tenant farmers (or "lessees"). The contract concluded between them is called a rural lease.

A rural lease can be written or simply verbal. The private deed is a lease to be drawn up in compliance with the tenancy status. It is drawn up in three copies and can be registered at the tax centre. This registration allows:

• to establish an exact date on which the lease takes effect;
• to benefit from reduced rates during a subsequent acquisition of this land (to benefit from reduced duties, you must have completed two years of lease and operated during the same period).

The notarial deed is drawn up by a notary. It is only mandatory for leases with a term of more than twelve years.

The verbal lease produces the same effects as a written lease, but in the event of a challenge, the written lease shows evidence of the existence of a lease. Therefore, in the case of a verbal lease, the tenancy payment should preferably be made by cheque, in order to be able to provide evidence that payment is being made.

Inventory on entering. It must be drawn up before the signature of the lease. It must be established in the presence of both parties and the costs borne jointly no later than three months after the tenant takes possession.

The amount of the tenancy. It must be situated between a minimum and a maximum amount fixed each year by prefectoral order, according to the departmental tenancy index. It depends on the quality of the land. In addition to the price of the tenancy, the owner may request the farmer to reimburse the land tax and fees of the agricultural chamber. For more information, you can consultation the "Tenancy" section on the site Le-prix-des-terres.fr published by the group of SAFERs (site in French only).

The rent of a residential house must be separate from the rent of land. It fluctuates according to the construction cost index. In certain cases, an increase of the tenancy amount is possible during the lease.

Term, renewal and termination of a rural lease. The rural lease has a minimum term of nine years, and the initial lease has a term of between nine and eighteen years (Article L411-5 of the Rural Code). The lease is renewed automatically for nine years, unless leave is given at least 18 months before the expiry of the lease. If the term of the lease exceeds 18 years, it is then called a long-term lease, which has specific conditions of renewal.

The non-renewal of the lease can only take place in certain circumstances: default of payment, degradation of the property, recovery of the property by the owner lessor, whether or not on an amicable basis. In this last case, the lessor must fulfil certain conditions.


Can I have a co-lessee?

If the owner agrees, the existing tenant farmer can include a co-lessee in the lease, who will also have the status of farm operator. A new lease will then be drawn up in the names of all the lessees and signed by all the parties.


The long-term lease

This other type of lease falls outside of the tenancy status (Article L451-1 et seq. of the Rural Code). Here are the main characteristics:
• the enjoyment of the property is granted to the lessee for a period of between 18 and 99 years, and it may not be renewed by tacit agreement; • the amount of the rent is lower than that of a lease under the tenant farming status;
• the lessee has the option to grant a mortgage on the property. He may even assign or sub-lease it as often as he likes;
• all maintenance charges are borne by the lessee and the owner is not required to compensate the lessee for any improvements made. The lessee may not perform any operation on the property likely to decrease its value.


Useful link(s)

Where can I obtain a model for a rural lease?
A standard lease is established in each department by the consultative commission for rural leases. Standard lease models are available:
- from the Chamber of Agriculture (chambre d’agriculture),
- from the SAFERs (Sociétés d'aménagement foncier et d'établissement rural (Safer)),
- or from the management centres (centres de gestion).

Le-prix-des-terres.fr is a site of the Land Development and Rural Establishment Agencies (SAFER). It allows access to the prices of farming and rural properties in France and to their developments -see also the Tenancy section. This site is intended for individuals and for land professionals. In French only.


 

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