Tuesday 27 September 2016

New life in leases

Tax breaks are making the leasing of farms such as this 131ac holding in Kilkenny an attractive proposition for farmers

Jim O'Brien

Published 02/03/2016 | 02:30

The holding near Castlecomer is being offered on a six-year lease with an option to rent the house and extensive sheds separately or with the land.
The holding near Castlecomer is being offered on a six-year lease with an option to rent the house and extensive sheds separately or with the land.
The six-year lease comes with an option to rent the house and extensive sheds separately or with the land.

An increasing number of farmers are opting for long term leasing because of the tax breaks offered by these arrangements.

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One of the larger farms to come on the leasing market of late is a 131ac residential holding at Knocknadogue near Castlecomer in Co Kilkenny. The farm can be let in its entirety or in lots on a six-year lease with an option to rent the house and extensive sheds separately or with the land. It comes without entitlements.

The land will be let by public auction and guided at between €200 and €230/ac.

The house can be rented with a 75ac lot or with the entire at a rental of €400 per month while the sheds are available for rent at €350/pm, again with the 75ac or with the entire.

Renting arrangements for the house and sheds will be made subsequent to the land-letting auction.

I visited the farm in the company of auctioneer Joe Coogan and the owner of the holding. It was a fine crisp February morning and even after all the rain the countryside looked great. We drove from Castlecomer up to elevated ground and the farm at Knocknadogue.

The holding is about 3km from Castlecomer, 18km from Kilkenny City, 23km from Carlow and 32km from Portlaoise. It commands beautiful views over the whole countryside and Slievenamon is visible in the distance.

The farm includes the best of grazing ground and is firm under foot for the most part. Being elevated and south facing it has withstood much of the recent bad weather. I walked the place around midday and it was difficult to photograph the sweep of the land as we were constantly facing into the sun.

A few fields beside the River Dinan bounding the lower end of the property are softer than the rest but are clearly better than your regular summer grazing.

The elevated land across the road from the house is fine, dry ground with some evidence of surface rock in places. An 18ac piece located 1km from the main farm is in a block of fine grazing.

The holding is divided into medium sized and large fields with fine hedgerow fencing and good gates between each. There is a water supply to every division, aside from the 18ac section located 1km from the main farm.

Joe Coogan says much of the ground would be suitable for tillage and also has a great capacity for producing fodder. "There was 60ac of silage cut off this every year, in good weather and bad," he explained. Over 34ac has been reseeded in recent years.

Entitlements

The land comes with no entitlements, which, according to Mr Coogan, can be something of an advantage. "It means that new entrants leasing this farm can use it to build up their entitlements and any tenant with entitlements to bring with them can attach them to the property for the duration of the lease."

There is an extensive farmyard with the property including a three-bay double-sided slatted shed and a large two-bay slatted shed with accommodation for around 120 cattle.

There is also a six-bay round roof shed with concrete walls and floors, a large silage pit and cattle crush. The yard is in fine shape and ideal for anyone contemplating a dry stock operation. It is available for rent with lot one or the entire.

The house is a two storey, solid farmhouse extending to 4,000sqft.

In perfectly habitable condition the accommodation includes five bedrooms, a spacious kitchen with an Aga, a sitting room, dining room, lounge, a utility room and a bathroom.

Services include oil-fired central heating. The house is available for rent with lot one or the entire.

At auction the lands will be offered in four lots. The main portion of 75ac directly behind and adjacent to the house and yard will be offered as one lot. Directly across the road from this is a 38ac parcel, while a third parcel of 18ac is located 1km from the house.

The acreage in question refers to net acres as per the Area Aid payments.

While the preference of the owner would be to lease the entire property to one tenant for the six year duration of the agreement, nevertheless, Mr Coogan believes the variety of lots will appeal to a variety of customers.

He also thinks the timing of the auction is good, "There will not be many more opportunities this spring to acquire a six-year lease on a property like this," he said.

"The person or persons leasing it will be able to move in here the morning after the auction and start farming."

The sale takes place at Joe Coogan's offices, Ballycomey House, Castlecomer at 9pm on Monday, March 14.

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