Terminating Farm Leases in Ohio — Is There a Date That Leases Must Be Terminated?
Often I overhear a conversation, or am sometimes flatly told, that if a farmer has his or her inputs purchased for a rented farm by March 1 a farm lease cannot legally be terminated by either party. In Ohio, as of the date of this post, this is not true. It is true that some states do have legislation or statutes that provide a date, but Ohio is not one of those states. From the OSU Ag Law Newsletter, Fall 2007:
If the parties do not have a written lease covering notice of termination, Ohio court made law would come into play to determine the proper notice period in the event of a dispute. Our courts vary on the notice period required for a year-to-year farm lease-from three months to six months. Based on these court rulings, parties to a farm lease in Ohio should consider providing a six month notice of termination. If proper notice is not provided by one party, the other party could legally argue that the lease should continue for another lease period. A statutory law stating a specific notice period for farm lease termination could help prevent disputes over whether adequate notice has been given.
The above piece was written by Peggy Hall, Director of the OSU Ag Law Program, and has not changed since she wrote it in 2007. There is a local custom that landlords and tenants may follow. The local custom in Van Wert County is to renogotiate leases late summer or following fall harvest. However, without anything in writing a lease could technically be renogiatiated at anytime. OSU Extension strongly recommends putting any lease agreement in writing to avoid the ambiguity of farm lease termination. Don Breece, Robert Fleming, and later, Peggy Hall, have developed an excellent resource for farm leases: http://aede.osu.edu/programs/aglaw/docs/FarmLeaseFactSheet2008.pdf. In addition to that resource, there is a very east-to-follow checklist developed by Don Breece at http://ohioline.osu.edu/fr-fact/0003.html
Finally, for the latest in changes or updates in farm leases I recommend you subscribe to the Ohio Ag Manager newsletter at http://ohioagmanager.osu.edu/services/email.php. Ohio Ag Manager is a monthly newsletter from OSU Extension that focusses exclusively on farm management issues in Ohio.