Agricultural Land Lease Essentials
Lease: A special kind of contract between a property owner and a person wanting temporary enjoyment and exclusive use of the property, in exchange for rent paid to the property owner.
–Duhaime’s Law Dictionary
With land leasing and under a land lease agreement, BC landowners can make all, or part of, their land available to a farmer in exchange for rent. Farm leases are a mainstay of Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland agriculture – and more common than you might think. For example, approximately 40% of farmland in Surrey is leased. And around 77 % of leased farmland in Metro Vancouver is owned by individuals, not businesses.
The BC Government offers a comprehensive guide to agricultural lease agreements in British Columbia.
A sample land lease agreement and lease agreement template can be found on the Young Agrarians website.
Just remember: before you sign any type of agreement, have a lawyer or accountant review.
Lease Benefits for Landowners
The most obvious perk for Fraser Valley ALR landowners is extra income, but there are several other advantages:
- Opportunity to revitalize land: For untouched land, a farm lease can add cultivation value; for previously farmed land, it can be a chance to test producing something new.
- Leasing land can help lower your insurance rate. By being the ‘additional insured’ on a new farmers plan, you effectively lower the amount of insurance you pay on the land you are cultivating.
- Opportunity for farmers to take on less: Leasing keeps land productive if a farmer needs a break – due to an illness, for example – or wishes to retire. While five years is the most common period for an agricultural land lease, Fraser Valley leases sometimes run as short as one year.
- BC land lease tax advantages: Retired farmers can receive property tax exemptions if their land is in BC’s agricultural land reserve (ALR) and continues to be farmed. When leasing ALR land in Fraser Valley municipalities, landowners may be eligible for other tax benefits – visit BC Assessment to learn more.
- Beautification: Having farmers cultivate your land can in some cases beautify your property. Growing orchards of stone fruits, nuts or other flowering trees can create an aesthetically pleasing farm.
Lease Benefits for Farmers
Especially for those just starting out, leasing is a great way to obtain access to land affordably, and with a relatively low level of commitment. In some cases, young and new farmers enjoy mentorship from an experienced farmer, too.