Time is running out to avoid automatic renewal of a 2017 farm lease in Iowa. Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, Iowa law requires that you formally notify the other party by September 1 if you don’t wish to continue the current lease under its existing terms for another year.
This rule applies equally to oral leases or written leases and to one-year leases or multi-year leases. Regardless of the length of the term of the original lease, the auto-renewal provision extends an expiring lease for one additional year. Auto-renewal applies to both landlords and tenants. For example, if a tenant does not wish the 2017 lease to automatically renew for the 2018 crop year under the same price and terms, the tenant must send statutory notice to the landlord before September 1. If this notice is not sent, the tenant is obligated to rent the ground for another year at the current price.
The auto-renewal provision applies only to farm tenancies.And there are several exceptions to the auto-renewal of a farm lease.
There are three alternative methods for serving statutory notice. Any are acceptable:
The most common—and usually the most efficient—way to serve statutory notice is option three: mailing the notice by certified mail before September 1. Under this method, the service is completed “when the notice is enclosed in a sealed envelope, with the proper postage on the envelope, addressed to the party or a successor of the party at the last known mailing address and deposited in a mail receptacle provided by the United States postal service.” The courts construe the notice statute requirements very strictly. Notice will not be sufficient, for example, if it is sent via regular, instead of certified, mail. It does not matter if the intended recipient actually receives the notice and admits that he or she read it. The notice will be deemed invalid and the lease will auto-renew unless all statutory requirements are followed. It is therefore important that the sender of the notice retain the certified mailing receipt. Without such receipt, he or she will be unable to prove proper service if a dispute arises. A sample termination notice form can be found here.
For more detailed information about Iowa farm leases (including statutory citations), read Iowa Farm Leases: A Legal Review.
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