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A State-by-State Guide to Midwest Farm Lease Termination Deadlines

While it’s really never too early to be thinking about next year’s lease, if you’re not careful, it can be too late. Do you know the important dates for your state?
In most states, there are established farm lease termination dates by which you must address your lease or risk losing the opportunity to make any changes for the following year. While many landowners are savvy about these dates and what they mean for their farmland, others might be surprised to learn that they don’t have as much flexibility in lease negotiation and renewal timing as they might have expected. As an owner of farmland, it’s hard to imagine that less than six months after your farmer gets their crops in the ground, it’s time to act on your plan for the following year.

What is a farm lease termination date?

In its simplest terms, this is the date by which either party—you or your farmer—must move to terminate your lease agreement.
  • A verbal lease not properly terminated will auto-renew in most states with no change to the previous terms.
  • A written lease with no specific clause regarding termination would then apply the state law for termination. Otherwise, termination and renewal are dictated per the written lease terms. The exception to this rule is Iowa, where state termination laws supersede any termination clause in the lease that is not consistent with the state law.
If you have a written lease with a termination clause, this governs how your lease should be terminated. If you do not, or live in the state of Iowa, find your state below to understand more about how and when to terminate your lease.

Why is the farm lease termination date important?

Lease termination laws vary from state to state, and missing a deadline can be costly. Because leases automatically renew if not terminated properly, you can miss a significant opportunity to discuss important topics like rent adjustments, farm performance, and necessary land improvements. All factors that can determine if the terms of your lease need to change for the coming year.

I’m not planning to change my lease or my farmer. Why should I care?

Stay on top of termination deadlines to ensure you’re having critical conversations about your farmland investment. Having a grower you like, respect and trust is the goal for most landowners, but long-term relationships don’t necessarily rely on long-term leases. Regular termination, review, and renewal or renegotiating your lease provide the means to make sure you are taking a proactive approach to your farmland investment.

What’s the farm lease termination date for my state?

Every state is a little bit different, and it can be challenging to keep track of the requirements for each—especially if you own land in multiple states. *To help you avoid missing the date that applies to your land, we’ve compiled the termination deadlines and requirements in states we most often work with. Download our handy important-dates-to-remember landowner calendar here. Your lease termination deadline can vary depending on your state and lease laws. For example, most farmland leases run from March 1 to the last day of February; January 1 – December 31 is less common. Other agricultural regions may have different lease periods.

Arkansas

  • Deadline: June 30
  • Requirement: The notice must be in writing and sent via certified mail to the tenant. If no notice of termination is given by this date, the tenant assumes that the lease will continue as is throughout the following year. Tip: Arkansas has an earlier deadline than most states. Set a reminder to send your notice.

California

  • Deadline: Termination must be specified in the agreement.
    Tillable’s recommendation: July 1
  • Requirement: A lease of more than one year or an agreement that is month to month must be written in CA to be enforceable, as such any termination beyond a year must be specified in the agreement.
    Tip: California law, unlike other states, does not offer broad support for verbal agreements. A written lease is always recommended over a verbal lease, but it is almost a necessity in California.

Indiana

  • Deadline: 3 months before the end of the lease
    Tip: That would translate to roughly a November 30 deadline, which leaves a brief period to set the terms for the following year. Allow yourself more negotiating time by terminating earlier.
    Tillable’s recommendation: November 30
  • Requirement: A farm lease termination letter must be served in writing.
    Tip: Certified mail is ideal for confirming the letter was delivered. If you choose to hand-deliver your notice, getting a signature from your tenant is a good way to confirm the termination was served.

Illinois

  • Deadline: Four months before the end of the lease
    Tip: Because most farmland leases run from March 1st to the last day of the following February, the most common termination date is October 31st.
    Tillable’s recommendation: October 31
  • Requirement: Written notice in the form of a hand-delivered letter or a similar document sent by certified or registered mail.
    Tip: Because the deadline is often in the middle of harvest, it is usually wise to deliver the letter earlier to ensure that the tenant is easily located for delivery.

Iowa

  • Deadline: September 1st
    Tip: This specific date must be met in Iowa, which gives plenty of time to negotiate before the following year. It allows for notice to be served by either you or your tenant before the hectic harvest season begins.
  • Requirement: Written farm lease termination notice is required even if your lease addresses the termination date.
    Tip: Always get a signature, whether in person or via certified mail.

Kansas

  • Deadline: No later than 30 days before March 1st.
    Tillable’s recommendation: Jan 30
  • Requirement: Written notice is required.
    Tip: Recommendation is to send termination notice via certified mail to be safe.

Kentucky

  • Deadline: Six months prior to the expiration date of the lease.
    Tip: For a standard lease term, this would translate to August 28th. For a calendar year lease, this would be July 1st.
    Tillable’s recommendation: August 28
  • Requirement: Landowners should disclose lease termination or any intended changes in rental arrangements in writing via certified mail.

Louisiana

  • Deadline: Thirty days before the end of the lease agreement.
    Tip:  For a standard lease term, this would translate to January 29th.  For a calendar year lease, this would be November 30th.
    Tillable’s recommendation: January 29
  • Requirement: Written notice recommended via certified mail.
    Tip: To be safe, sending your lease termination letter via certified mail no later than November 30th would be best practice.

Michigan

  • Deadline: It’s up to you!
    Tip: Michigan law allows you to dictate the termination date of a lease in the lease document, along with any renewal terms. This is very convenient, particularly if you plan to negotiate terms every year.
    Tillable’s recommendation: September 30
  • Requirement: Written notice is required if you don’t choose to include the termination date in the lease.
    Tip: Always get a signature, whether in person or via certified mail. A common courtesy in agricultural leases is a minimum of 3 months before the end of the previous lease. Many farmers secure their inputs before the upcoming year’s growing season. Providing notice by November allows time for proper planning.

Minnesota

  • Deadline: Three months before the end of the lease, or you have the option of including a definitive termination date in the lease document.
    Tillable’s recommendation: September 30
  • Requirement: Written notice is required if you don’t choose to include the termination date in the lease.
    Tip: Always get a signature, whether in person or via certified mail.

Mississippi

  • Deadline: Two months from the end of the year or lease term.
    Tip: For a standard lease term, this would translate to December 30th. For a calendar year lease, this would be October 31st.
    Tillable’s recommendation: December 30
  • Requirement: Written notice is required.

Missouri

  • Deadline: It’s up to you—or sixty days before the end of the lease
    Tip: Missouri allows for a specified termination date in the lease. If no date is included in the lease documents, it is called a “periodic lease,” It must be terminated with 60 days’ notice.
    Tillable’s recommendation: October 31
  • Requirement: Written notice is required if you don’t choose to include the termination date in the lease.
    Tip: Always get a signature, whether in person or via certified mail.

Nebraska

  • Deadline: For written leases, the terms of termination are outlined in the lease. If nothing is specified, a written lease terminates automatically on the last day of the lease. There is no automatic renewal.
    Tillable’s recommendation: September 1
  • For verbal (handshake) leases:  Notice to a tenant to terminate the lease must be given six months in advance of the end of the lease, or no later than the preceding September 1st.
  • Requirement: Termination outlined in the lease.
    Tip: Recommendation is to send termination notice via certified mail to be safe regardless of termination being addressed in the lease.

New York

  • Deadline: Three months (Ninety days) before the expiration of the current rental period.
    Tip:  For a standard lease term, this would translate to November 30th. For a calendar year lease, this would be September 30th.
    Tillable’s recommendation: November 30
  • Requirement: Written notice, recommended via certified mail.

North Carolina

  • Deadline: Thirty days before the end of tenancy.
    Tip: Knowing the end date of your lease is vital to abide by this termination law. If that is unknown, it is safest to assume you need to send notice by the end of September.
    Tillable’s recommendation: November 30
  • Requirement: Written termination sent by certified mail or a hand-delivered termination agreement signed by all parties involved in the lease.

North Dakota

  • Deadline: Minimum thirty days’ notice prior to the end of the original lease term.
    Tillable’s recommendation: November 30
  • Requirement: We could not find information around written notification, but we always recommend written notice delivered via certified mail.
    Tip: A common courtesy in agricultural leases is a minimum of 3 months before the end of the previous lease. Many farmers secure their inputs before the upcoming year’s growing season. Providing notice by November allows time for proper planning.

Ohio

  • Deadline: The lease agreement should state the period required for proper notice of termination. Unlike some states, Ohio does not have a statute that establishes a specific notice period if a lease has not addressed the issue.
    Tillable’s recommendation: September 30
  • Requirement: Written notice is required.
    Tip: A party would be wise to give written notice of termination at least three months prior to the lease termination date.

Pennsylvania

  • Deadline: Fifteen days prior to the end date of the original lease.
    Tillable’s recommendation: November 30
  • Requirement: Written notice is required.
    Tip: Because state law only requires 15 to 30 days’ notice to terminate leases, agricultural tenants who may require more than 30 days to vacate the leased property should consider including a termination process in the lease. Although only 15 days is needed, a common courtesy in agricultural leases is to provide a tenant with at least three months’ notice.

South Dakota

  • Deadline: September 1st
    Tip: Mid-September is the best time to send via certified mail to ensure the postmark is done on an accurate date.
  • Requirement: Written termination sent by certified mail or a hand-delivered termination agreement signed by all parties involved in the lease.

Tennessee

  • Deadline: July 1st
  • Requirement: Written notice is required.
    Tip: Recommendation is to send termination notice via certified mail to be safe. Tennessee has an earlier deadline than most states. Set a reminder to send your notice.

Texas

Tip: Due to the diversity in lease types and land designations in the state of Texas, it is best to consult an attorney local to the area of the farmland for direction on the best practice in the area for terminating your specific lease.
Tillable’s recommendation: July 1

Wisconsin

  • Deadline: Ninety days before the end of the lease.
    Tip: Notice that some states list their notification periods in months and others in days. This can be an essential difference.
    Tillable’s recommendation: September 30
  • Requirement: Written notice is required.
    Tip: Always get a signature, whether in person or via certified mail.


*Our team has done its best to track down various termination deadlines and laws across the midwest and other central agricultural leasing states. However, this blog and any information disclosed herein do not constitute legal advice, and we cannot guarantee that the information herein is accurate.  Always consult an attorney when entering into or terminating agreements.

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Related questions

The farm lease termination date is the date by which either party—the landowner or the farmer—must move to terminate your lease agreement. Otherwise, the lease automatically renews with the same terms. This applies to written and verbal leases in most cases. Staying on top of this date ensures landowners and farmers are having critical conversations about rent adjustments, farm performance, necessary land improvements and other factors—and provides the flexibility to address them in the next lease agreement.

At a minimum, lease agreements include five things:

  1. The names of the landlord and tenant.
  2. A description of the property to be rented.
  3. The rent amount.
  4. The lease term with start and end dates.
  5. The signatures of both parties.

Additionally, landowners and farmers should consider adding more detail around expectations for data delivery, commitment to sustainable farming practices and soil health, proof of insurance, and frequency and types of communication regarding the farm and your agreement.

Whether you’re a local landowner, remote farmland owner, or a farmer, you can arrive at a fair land rental agreement by leveraging a little data, defined goals, and clear communication. Plan the conversation carefully, and make farm performance and stewardship data a central part of the negotiations. Landowners and farmers should work diligently in their negotiations to understand what’s fair to each party (“fair” can mean different things to different people) and collaboratively determine how to reach that point. You can find more tips in our article, “How to Negotiate a Fair Land Rental Agreement.”

Great farmers need the support of great landowners. You need to be receptive to the advice your farmer gives you about land improvements and property repairs. Additionally, your lease needs to make it clear that necessary repairs not caused by the farmer will be covered by you. Also, stay curious about your farm and its operations. Even if you don’t live near your farmland, you should want to know about the new things your farmer is trying and implementing in their operation to increase production and reduce input expense. Be open and engaged in conversations about your farm, and use data to support the relationship and the agreement you have with your farmer. This will help ensure your rent stays fair to both parties—which could mean, depending on market conditions and other factors, you need to be open to the idea that your rent could need to go up OR down. Finally, as a landowner, if you’ve been able to identify your farmer as a great farmer, make sure you let them know it!

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