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How to Lease A Ranch

Photograph of grassland on a ranch property with mountains and yellow trees in the background

As of the end of 2023, around 878.6 million acres of America's land is used for farming, and farmers are often looking for more land to rent for growing crops. If you own farmland or ranchland, consider leasing it to farmers to make money on your land! In this guide, we will provide guidance on how to successfully lease your ranch.

Types of Ranch Land Leases

If your ranch property has farmland suitable for growing crops, consider leasing the farmland to farmers! There are two main types of farmland leases. The first method is the cash rent lease, wherein a predetermined amount per acre is agreed upon by the farmer to pay to the landowner. This payment can be made in full upfront, or divided into two installments: half at the onset of the farming season and the remaining half after the harvest has been gathered.

The second widely adopted approach is a crop share lease. In this arrangement, the farmer allocates a specific percentage of the revenue generated from cultivating your land to you. For instance, you may receive one-third of the profits, with the remaining two-thirds retained by the farmer. As the landowner, you typically contribute to a portion of the agricultural expenses, which is proportional to your share of the earnings.

Depending on your property, you can also lease your ranch for recreational activities. Many ranch land owners lease their ranches for camping or events, such as weddings.  Consider the type of land you have and what activities would be suitable for it when determining which type of lease is best for your ranch.

How to Lease a Ranch

Leasing your ranch can serve as a lucrative avenue to generate income from unused or underutilized land. It's essential to thoroughly assess your land's potential, choose the leasing method that aligns with your goals, effectively market your ranch to your target audience, and create a clear lease agreement. 

Evaluate the Condition of Your Ranch Property

Before leasing your ranch, ensure that it is in good condition and suitable for farming or recreational activities. If necessary, make any needed repairs or improvements to attract potential lessees. Additionally, consider obtaining any necessary permits or approvals for leasing activities.

Select an Arrangement

Decide if you prefer getting paid upfront or if you want to share in both the costs and profits of the crop yield. Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, with the optimal decision depending heavily on your individual preferences.

You will also need to determine how much of your ranch that you'd like to lease. Some ranch owners opt to lease their entire property, while others choose to offer specific areas or amenities for rent. Additionally, you must determine whether to manage the rental process independently or collaborate with a property management company.

Ultimately, the specific arrangement that you choose will depend on your goals, budget, and comfort level with managing rental properties. Remember that all lease agreements are negotiable!

Market the Ranch Land

The first step to effectively marketing your ranch land is to identify your target market – do you want to rent to hunters, campers, farmers, or those looking for outdoor events? Once you have identified your target audience, tailor your marketing efforts to them – use social media to showcase the beauty and unique features on your land, list on online marketplaces, and consider attending local fairs or events that your target audience would attend to promote your property.

When crafting your advertisement, it’s essential to provide thorough and detailed information. Potential tenants will be interested in knowing what facilities or structures on the property will be accessible to them. For example, if you're renting your ranch property to farmers for crops, consider providing information about water resources and soil types in your advertisement, as these details are crucial for successful farming operations.

After you've identified your target audience, there are various strategies you can employ to advertise your property effectively. Utilizing online listing platforms or local newspapers to post advertisements is a conventional method. Alternatively, distributing flyers at places frequented by the local community and your target audience, such as co-operatives, restaurants, stores, or even the local farmers market can also be an effective marketing approach. By effectively marketing your ranch to your target audience, you can attract the right renters and make money on your land.

Evaluate Potential Lessees

As a potential landlord, it’s paramount that you instill trust in the lessees who will be renting your land. You want to ensure they’ll take proper care of it and conserve its resources. During the tenant selection process, it’s advisable to conduct interviews with each potential lessee. If you're leasing your ranch to farmers, be sure that you ask about their specific farming practices and attitudes towards the land to ensure that you trust them to properly take care of the land.

Another helpful practice when evaluating potential lessees is to verify their references. Checking with previous landlords of a potential tenant who has experience in renting farmland can provide invaluable insights. These references can illuminate the farmer’s dependability, agricultural methods, and their behavior throughout the tenure of the lease. The objective transcends merely leasing your land; it encompasses forging a productive and enduring partnership with the tenant farmer. Dedicate effort to guarantee that the chosen farmer reflects your principles and visions for your property’s maintenance and stewardship.

Create a Strong Lease Agreement

Once you've identified a tenant who fulfills all your criteria, the next critical step is to draft a land lease agreement. It's imperative to ensure this lease is a formal document that outlines all the terms of the agreement with clarity. While sample farming leases from agricultural universities can be helpful starting points, they should only serve as a foundation to be expanded upon.

Your lease must include any specific conditions you expect the farmer to adhere to. For example, if you require the farmer/rancher to leave certain crops for late-season hunting, this stipulation must be clearly stated in the lease. Furthermore, the agreement should clearly outline terms related to the potential sale of the land. In some states, should the landlord opt to sell the leased property, the new owner must legally honor the terms of any pre-existing leases.

Finally, the lease should also establish your right to access the rented land for specific purposes such as hunting, farming, camping, or simply visiting. It’s critical to lay out these details clearly in writing to avoid potential misunderstandings or disputes in the future. It's also advisable to consult with a local land broker and an attorney for assistance with creating a mutually beneficial lease agreement. By comprehensively addressing all these points, you can ensure a lease agreement that is fair, transparent, and beneficial for both parties.

Comply with the Lease Agreement

Leasing your ranch for additional income can be a lucrative strategy to boost your revenue stream. However, ensuring adherence to the lease agreement is pivotal for a harmonious rental relationship between landlord and tenant. Before signing a lease agreement, it’s imperative to define explicit lease terms with your tenant. This includes payment schedules, maintenance and repair responsibilities, and guidelines for the use of the property. A well-articulated lease agreement safeguards your interests as the landlord and provides the tenant with a clear understanding of their obligations, fostering a positive rental experience for both parties.

List Your Ranch for Lease

When it comes to marketing your ranch for lease, it is crucial to get as many eyes on your ranch property as possible to ensure that you get the most value from your property. Listing your ranch for lease on a competitive marketplace like LandGate is a great way to do this! Listing is free, with no commissions or obligations to accept any offers. Get started today:


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