This is the online version of the Community Land Advisory Service's Rent Survey, undertaken in 2012. You can also download a copy as a word document here.
Rent Survey – examples of what groups are paying (England)
We have surveyed a random sample of community gardens about their land agreements and what rent they pay. The projects are diverse in scale and purpose and location. Some are trading, others are social, some are informal others are incorporated. The landlords are also varied. Some are local authorities others are private. Some land is rural, some urban. The rents paid vary from zero to over a thousand pounds.
The question of rent for a community garden is frequently raised. The only definitive answer is that rent you pay or charge for a community garden depends entirely on the individual circumstances of the land owner and community group. Therefore there is no guide price for renting an acre of community garden.
The cases below illustrate this point. Even if you find a circumstance similar to your own, do not assume that your rent will be similar. Instead, understand your needs as landlord or community group, both financial and otherwise. Understand the needs of the other party and see how you can best work together.
Please note: As the information involved is sensitive, the groups or landowners involved have not been named.
Urban Community Supported Agriculture
CSA X pays £800 plus water per year to a farmer for four acres of land that was previously grazing land, three miles from the city centre. They grow vegetables and fruit for CSA members and have an annual income of £1,000 to £5,000. They have a five-year farm business tenancy agreement. This equates to £200 per acre, plus water.
Rural Community Supported Agriculture
CSA Y rents 50 acres, conveniently close to a rural town, on a 10 year farm business tenancy from two landlords. Both are educational charities. The group’s turnover is £100,000. Rent is £1,300 plus metered water per site, including a use of a stone shed and large barn. The landlords appreciate the land being well stewarded, increased public access and the hosting of student visits. They produce vegetables on 6 acres and the rest of the land is grazing for beef, sheep and pigs. This equates to £52 per acre plus water.
Community orchard example
Community Orchard Z uses 2 acres of land belonging to a school, the church and a private land owner. They have free water, barn and fencing and they have no written agreements and pay no rent.
Community Garden 1
This 1/3 acre urban garden is owned by the church and was the vicarage garden. The community group grow food and also use the garden as an urban play space and training venue. They have a strong ethnic mix. The group has the garden on licence agreement, meaning no security of tenure and pay no rent. The adjoining vicarage is rented out separately by the church, but the community group provide tenants for the house, so that there are no rental voids, nor letting agency fees to pay.
Community Garden 2
This community garden also addresses community building in a multi ethnic urban area on a 1 acre site which has been derelict for 20 years following removal of old houses. It is owned by a Housing Association who provide fencing and charge no rent for a seven year lease. The group’s turnover is in the £1000-£5000 range and the site is used for education, food growing and play.
Council tenancy example 1
Council Tenancy Project A rents five acres of land from the council to grow vegetables and address social needs in the city as a CSA. They employ a part time grower and have a turnover of £16,000 per year. The land was vacant for 10 years prior to them setting up and is prone to waterlogging and is adjacent to a motorway, but close to the city centre. They have a 10 year farm business tenancy agreement and negotiated a ‘rent free’ period of three years, whilst they are setting up the project, reverting to a ‘market rent’ for the remainder of the tenancy.
Council tenancy example 2
A partnership of voluntary sector organisations have won a tender to rent five acres of council land on a disused nursery with several large glass houses. They will run a social project including care farming. They want to construct buildings including a toilet and have a 15 year business tenancy paying rent of £14,000 per year.
Partnership with private landlord example
This rural community orchard is on a privately owned garden and the community group have an unwritten agreement with the landowner, based on neighbourly trust. The landowner paid for 100 trees and will slowly recoup this cost from the group. The members pay £20 each per year to the group and this pays for all the running costs including insurance and reimbursing the landowner for buying the trees. The group have access to the orchard on agreed dates in the year only and provide labour for pruning and harvesting the fruit. The landlord will share the fruit with members when the trees mature, but is free to sell the property with the orchard whenever he wishes.