September 1st: An Important Date for Lease Termination

Land is not just a piece of property; it’s an investment, an asset, and often, a legacy. That’s why for landowners who lease out their land, maintaining the terms and conditions of that lease becomes crucial. Lease termination is an essential part of the process.

One key aspect of lease management is ensuring that any lease terminations are communicated legally and promptly. Specifically, if a landowner wishes to end a lease with a tenant, a legal notice must be served prior to September 1st.

Why the Notice?

Leasing land is an agreement between the landowner and the tenant, whether it’s for agricultural, residential, or commercial use. This agreement ensures that both parties are aware of their responsibilities and rights. When either party wishes to terminate this agreement, it’s vital to ensure the transition is smooth, legal, and gives both parties adequate time to make necessary arrangements.

Terminating Verbal Leases

Jessica Groskopf, J.David Aiken & Allan Vyhnalek with The University of Nebraska-Lincoln do a great job of summarizing the termination of verbal lease here.

“For year-to-year verbal leases, the Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that the lease year begins March 1. Notice to a tenant to vacate under a verbal or handshake year-to-year lease (legally referred to as a “notice to quit”) must be given six months in advance of the end of the lease, or no later than Sept. 1. This rule applies regardless of the crop planted. Those with winter wheat should consider providing notice before it is time to prepare wheat ground for planting.

For example, for the lease year beginning March 1, 2020, and ending Feb. 28, 2021, notice from the landlord that the lease will be terminated would have to be given to (and received by) the tenant no later than Sept. 1, 2020. The lease would then expire Feb. 28, 2021, with the new tenant (or new buyer) able to take over the lease March 1, 2021. If, however, the notice to quit were given (or received) after Sept. 1, 2020, the existing tenant would have the lease until Feb. 28, 2022.

It is recommended that the farmland lease be terminated by Registered Mail.  This means that the person receiving the letter signs for it, providing evidence that the termination notice was received.”

The Consequences of Missing the Deadline

Missing the September 1st deadline can lead to complications:

  1. Legal Implications: The lease might automatically roll over, which could potentially bind the landowner to unwanted terms for another year.
  2. Financial Implications: If the landowner had plans to lease the land to another party at a different rate or use it differently, missing the deadline could lead to financial losses.
  3. Relationship Strain: Not giving timely notice can strain the landowner-tenant relationship, leading to distrust or disputes.

Best Practices for Serving Lease Termination Notice

  1. Documentation: Always ensure that the termination notice is in writing, clear, and detailed.
  2. Seek Legal Counsel: While it might seem straightforward, it’s often beneficial to consult with a legal expert to ensure that the notice adheres to local laws and regulations.
  3. Open Communication: Maintain an open line of communication with your tenant. This fosters a good relationship and ensures that there are no misunderstandings.

Why September 1st Matters for Lease Termination

To maintain the integrity of the leasing process, landowners should be diligent in giving tenants timely and legal notice for lease termination. Protecting your investment means not only looking after the land but also managing leases effectively.

Don’t let the September 1st deadline sneak up on you. Stay proactive, and ensure that all your leasing matters are in order.

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