Landlords and Tenants: Building Trust

Husker Home Place

Building trust and effectively communicating with your landlord may take time, but it is worth it in the long run.

Published on: December 17, 2013

I just returned from one of the University of Nebraska Extension landlord and tenant workshops presented by UNL Extension educators, Allan Vyhnalek at Platte County and Tim Lemmons at  Madison County. I have attended these workshops before, but each and every time I attend, I learn something new and useful.

There were several themes that resonated at this session, but something that kept coming up was the importance for tenants to build trust and nurture a quality business relationship with their landlords. This should be common sense, but not necessarily. There are tenants that take advantage of their landlords, or simply don’t communicate effectively or often enough with the landowners.

Of course, trust is a two-way street. Landlords need to keep their relationships with their tenants strong and clearly and effectively communicate what is expected of their tenants. As Vyhnalek said, you will often hear a landlord complain about an aspect of management by their tenants, but have they sat down with that tenant and actually discussed what the expectations are?

Vyhnalek said that each generation expects different things, because their values are quite different. Depending on the age of the landlord, they might like to know what the rainfall is on their farm periodically, or they might like to receive pictures of the growing crops via email.

Tenants need to be in tune to these wishes and discuss ways they can keep the landlord in the loop as the growing season progresses. Communication is what builds up a trustful business relationship, according to Lemmons. Successful tenants work hard to give landlords the information they need and to communicate effectively the production challenges and successes on the land.

This might be one way that young tenants could become long-term tenants of coveted cropland. If they work at communicating properly and completely with their landlords, giving them the information they want and need and talking about the landlord's goals for their property, they earn the trust of the landlord over the long haul and develop a lasting relationship.

Lemmons said that we need young farmers on the land, so it is great when landlords are open to young farmers renting their property and understand some of the new talents that young farmers bring to the table. But, they must also understand and accept that young farmers may not have the financial resources as more established growers.

You can read more about the landlord and tenant workshops in a print article in an upcoming issue of Nebraska Farmer.

Here is this week’s discussion question. What is the most important consideration for you when you are leasing out your land and deciding on a tenant? Is it rental rates, trustworthiness, the way they mow the ditches, or something else? You can share your thoughts and discussion right here.

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