1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Large and Small Farming - Introduction. Tenancies at Will and Leases.

(Part 102)


Introduction. Tenancies at Will and Leases.


No treatise on agriculture will in these days be considered complete which does not take note of some of the various modes in which the treatment of the soil may be affected by variations in the cultivating occupiers form of tenure. A farm, mey be the property of its occupiers, or be held by him at will or on lease. According t its extent it will be the subject of grande or of petite culture, expressions which in the following pages will be Anglicised as large and small culture or farming., If a farm be of small size, and if its occupant be also its owner, peasant proprietorship comes into play. If it be let, its rent may consist of a payment of predetermined amount in money or in kind, or may, instead of a fixed portion, be a predetermined proportion of the annual produce. It may be let to one individual, singly responsible for the rent and for all imposts, fiscal or other, and exclusively entitled to the whole of the remaining net produce; or it may be held in common by any number of coparceners, all co-operating in the cultivation, and jointly and severally responsible for the rent and other dues, and all participating in the net profits.

Each of these systems has its advocated, and of one of them, at least, the admirers are so much enamoured as to be unable to perceived merit in any of the rest. A judgment upon them that would be generally acceptable is therefore impossible and need not be attempted here. Nothing more will be aimed at than such an impartial estimate of the advantages and disadvantages of each as may help an unbiased reader to judge for himself.

Tenancies at Will and Leases

I. In regard to tenancy at will and to leases, little need be added to the observations made in previous chapters of this article. For the considerable, however, of those who insist on the undoubted fact that in Great Britain, where tenancy at will is still the rule, and leases as yet only the exception, the same families, although liable to be ousted at sic months notice, are nevertheless often found occupying the same land from generation to generation, the following may be suggested as a not improbable explanation of the landlord’s non-exercise of the power of eviction., It may perhaps be not so much that the farmers really confound past continuity with future prevents their investing liberally in improvements, and thereby bringing the land into a condition calculated to attract higher bidders for its possession. Such increase as does take place in its lettable value is chiefly due to enhancement of the prices of produce; and to a rise of rent proportionate to such enhancement the old tenants readily submit rather than be removed. The principal loser here is the landlord, whose short-sighted policy deters his tenants from a species of enterprise the benefit of which would eventually become principally his own. If the tenants took the trouble to make the comparison, they might, it is true to , deliberately prefer the mere chance of a long series of years at a low rent to the certainty of the same low rent for a limited term, coupled with the nearly equal certainty of a rise of rent at the end of the term. Their gains in the former case, they might argue, however meager, might at least be easily earned; whereas materially to increase them in the latter case, although perhaps possible, would be possible only at the expense of much anxiety of mind as well as of much extra sweat of the brow.

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