By Robert Moore, attorney and research specialist for the OSU Agricultural & Resource Law Program
A new Ohio law took effect last year that impacts some landowners who want to terminate their farm crop leases. If a farm lease does not include a termination date or a termination method, the law requires a landowner to provide termination notice to the tenant by Sept. 1. The law was adopted to prevent late or otherwise untimely terminations by landowners that could adversely affect tenants.
It is important to note that the law only applies to verbal leases or written leases that do not include a termination date or method of notice of termination. If a written lease includes a termination date or method of notice, the terms of the lease apply and not the termination notice law. Also, the law does not apply to leases for pasture, timber, farm buildings, horticultural buildings, or equipment.
The notice can be provided to the tenant by hand, mail, fax, or email. If termination is provided by Sept. 1, the lease is terminated either upon the date harvest is complete or Dec. 31, whichever is earlier. While no specific language is required for the termination notice, it is good practice to include the date of notice, an identification of the leased farm and a statement that the lease will terminate on the completion of harvest or December 31. If termination is provided after September 1, the lease continues for another year unless the tenant voluntarily agrees to terminate the lease early.
A tenant is not subject to the new law and can terminate a lease after September 1 unless the leasing arrangement provides otherwise. Because it is generally easier for a landowner to find another tenant, even on short notice, the law protects only the tenant from untimely terminations, not landowners.
For more information, see Ohio’s New Statutory Termination Date for Farm Crop Leases law bulletin available at farmoffice.osu.edu.