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Farmers Urged To Get Equipment Agreements In Place

A local legal expert is reminding farmers across the county of the importance of putting written agreements in place before renting out expensive equipment.

With more and more farm owners taking advantage of renting out agricultural machinery such as bailers, tractors, and trailers when they aren’t in use as an additional income stream, Katie Gray of PCB Solicitors has highlighted a number of potential pitfalls that farmers need to be aware of.

“On many occasions farm owners will simply lend their machinery out to friends by way of informal agreement, with nothing set out in writing" Katie explained. “Farm machinery can be hugely expensive – some agricultural businesses actually buy new equipment especially to hire out – and such a relaxed approach can open the door to all sorts of confusion and conflict, and even lead to costly disputes.

“It might be something simple, for example, the owner unexpectedly requiring the equipment back and the hirer not willing to return it at short notice, or something more fundamental such as the equipment not being properly insured against damage due to the hirer not having the appropriate cover in place. There can also be disputes over payment amounts and when payments are due, while we’ve even come across cases where the actual ownership of a piece of machinery has been cast in doubt, because it was very difficult for a farmer to prove that the payments he’d received were for renting the machine out temporarily, rather than selling it outright"

Katie recommends farm owners put in place a formal hire agreement in writing ahead of any deal to ensure peace of mind, spelling out all terms and conditions for the renting of the equipment.

“These documents can prevent problems further down the line by setting out the specifics such as the hire price and date of any payment, who is responsible for insuring the equipment and liable for any damage or malfunction, where and when the equipment must be returned, and what training the hirer must have before safely using the machinery. For equipment that is bought on hire purchase, the agreement must also take into account the terms and conditions of the HP contract too.

“Any local farm owner seeking clarification on what they need to take into account when hiring out their equipment should contact a member of our team for advice" Katie concluded.

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