I own approximately 160 acres of agricultural land. Recently, I have become unhappy with my tenant. We didn’t really have a lease agreement and I suppose some of our disagreements could have been solved perhaps by having a written lease. However, in the past we were always able to just talk and work things out. At any rate, is there any special way to go about terminating the lease?
A: The Kansas statute dealing with farm lease termination is K.S.A. section 58-2506. This statute actually sets out a fairly specific procedure for terminating an agricultural lease.
In general terms, the notice to terminate must be in writing, should describe the land, should fix March 1 as the termination date, and be served at least 30 days prior to March 1. Thus, under this statute, if notice is delivered on January 31 that will not be sufficient because the notice was given only 29 days before March 1.
If at the time of termination there are planted crops—such as wheat—that will be harvested in the summer, then the lease is terminated with respect to the land with the standing crop upon the harvest of that crop or August 1. For example, if notice is timely given and part of the land had soybeans that were harvested in the prior fall and the other portion is planted in wheat, the lease will terminate on March 1 with respect to the portion that was in soybeans. The lease will end with respect to the portion in wheat upon the harvest of the wheat crop or August 1.
There actually are some cases that create potential alternative methods to terminate a farm lease and avoid the sometimes harsh technicalities of this statute. However, those cases will not be discussed for the purposes of this article.
There are a number of different ways to serve the notice to terminate. These methods include personally handing it to the tenant, leaving the notice with an individual at least 12 years of age on the lease premises, tacking a copy of the notice on the tenant’s residence, and through registered mail.
The above discussion relates to a situation where the landlord has simply become unhappy with the tenant and wants to terminate the lease for that reason. A different procedure is used to terminate a lease for nonpayment of rent.
The above discussion also relates to a situation where no written lease existed. A written lease can alter the termination date as well. As you suggest, many disputes with farm tenants can be handled with a proper lease agreement.