Sanctions when stated termination motives of a farming lease are not realized

Flemish Farming Lease Decree explained (Part 5)

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In cases where a landowner terminates a lease for personal exploitation, due to property alienation, afforestation, or nature realization, the landowner must fulfill these reasons within a specified timeframe.

Failure to do so grants the tenant the right to return to the leased property with compensation. Alternatively, the tenant may opt for compensation alone.

termination motives - Andersen in Belgium

1. Termination for personal exploitation

If a landowner terminates a lease for personal exploitation and the leased property remains unexploited by the designated future operators for more than 6 months but less than 9 years after its vacation without substantial reasons, the landowner faces potential sanctions.

In such instances, the tenant is entitled to return to the property with compensation or solely claim compensation. The tenant has the liberty to choose between these two options without the obligation to justify their choice.

In cases of dispute, the burden of proof lies with the party in whose favor the termination was made to demonstrate personal operation of the agricultural business.

2. Termination due to alienation

In cases of termination with the intention of alienation, the authentic deed must be executed no later than the final day of the current lease period.

If the authentic deed is not executed within this period and the tenant has not vacated the property, the termination remains ineffective. If, however, the tenant has vacated the property, they have the right to return with compensation or claim compensation alone if preferred.

In disputes, the lessor bears the responsibility to prove the execution of the authentic deed.

3. Termination due to afforestation or nature realization

A lessor terminating a lease due to afforestation or nature realization is considered not to have fulfilled this reason if the afforestation or nature realization is not carried out within three years of termination. This includes either by planting, inclusion in an approved nature management plan, or maintenance for a minimum of 24 years.

In such cases, the tenant has the option to return to the property with compensation or opt for compensation alone.

4. Termination due to intended use or serious reasons

A lessor terminating a lease to utilize the property in accordance with its final destination or for serious reasons must execute this within six months of the property being vacated, unless significant justifications are provided, considering all factual circumstances.

Failure to do so within the stipulated timeframe grants the tenant the right to return to the property with compensation or solely claim compensation.

In disputes, the lessor must provide evidence of implementing their intention.

5. Procedures for the tenant

Upon establishing that the lessor has not realized the intention expressed in the termination, the tenant must initiate their claim for return or compensation within five years of vacating the property.

Claims based on premature termination of use must be filed within three years of such termination.

In case you wish to terminate a lease or have questions about it, do not hesitate in contacting our specialists: +32 (0)2 747 40 07 or info@be.andersen.com.

Would you like to learn more about this subject?

Contact our experts or telephone +32 (0)2 747 40 07
Ulrike Beuselinck

Ulrike Beuselinck

Partner
Charlotte Sterckx

Charlotte Sterckx

Senior Associate