Premises and Property
If a dwelling is included in the leased premises, various statutory provisions apply. For example, by law the residence must be habitable. Landlord-tenant and public health laws in each New England state regulate residential rental agreements to ensure safe and habitable living conditions for tenants. For this reason it sometimes makes sense to write up a separate lease for the residence, but it is not required. Additionally, if a residence is part of the lease there are different insurance considerations. (See the fact sheet “Describing the Premises” [and/or “whole farm lease” versus multiple leases]?
What if the leased premises include perennial crops, such as orchards, blueberries or other agroforestry crops?
The lease should specifically address how these crops will be valued, what will occur at the end of their productive life. If the tenant plants perennial crops on the premises, the lease should address this too. See Inspirations for Creating a Long-Term Agricultural Lease for Agroforestry: A Workbook from Farm Commons and the Savanna Institute. This guide addresses long-term leases involving agroforestry, including ways to account for the value of perennial crops and trees.
Unless the parties agree to the contrary, the tenant accepts the premises in “as is” condition. See Sample Language for “As is” condition.
A clear, precise description of the boundaries of the premises and any buildings or structures, along with any unusual characteristics, should be included in a farm lease. The parties need to know exactly what’s subject to the agreement, as do many third parties to the lease, such as an appraiser, a judge, or subsequent owner. All need to easily identify what’s included – and not included – in the leased premises and understand its condition at the outset of the lease. Thus, a clear and thorough description of what is (and is not) being leased is paramount. An adequate description depends in part on how elaborate the premises are. It could suffice to have a sentence or two about the location and external boundaries of a hay field. The description of the leased premises should include an address, a description of the boundaries, and a plot plan or diagram (which is typically attached as an appendix to the lease document). GIS and/or assessor maps, and photos (aerial, satellite and others) may also .
It’s also important that the lease establish a baseline condition of the premises so that the two parties’ discussions about expectations for maintenance and repair have a common starting point. Thus, more elaborate descriptions would include narrative descriptions of baseline conditions, photographs, building inspection reports, etc.
Additionally, anything that is not defined as being part of the premises at the outset of the agreement is not subject to the agreement unless and until the lease is revised to include new areas or new components.
See the Fact Sheet Describing the Premises
A lease can be drawn up for a barn or other structure. The basic lease framework applies (i.e. list the parties; what is being leased, including the condition; the term; and the rent). The lease should state who is responsible for utilities, maintenance and repairs, and rights of access (for example, via a road that is not part of the lease) for that structure.
The “property” refers to the entirety of the land, buildings, structures, equipment, etc., owned by the landowner, while the “premises” refers to only that portion of the property and/or components of it that are the subject of the lease. Explicitly listing each component of the premises (e.g., the barn, the maple sugaring tubing and syrup tanks, etc.) in a lease helps ensure that each component will be subject to the terms of the lease. Sometimes “premises” and “property” are used synonymously, so be alert to what is meant in a particular context.