They Don’t Record Rental Agreements

During a recent presentation on land records, I was asked if the courthouse typically had copies of leases or rental agreements for those farmers who rented their farm ground instead of owning it.

Typically these documents are not recorded, largely because they don’t alter the title to the property. There was a time when there were “lifetime leases,” but those types are situations were generally not in existence in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries.

It can be difficult tracing those farmers who never owned real property–as there are no land records for them. About the only time I’ve seen these rental agreements in the courthouse is when they were evidence in some type of court action.


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