Sustainable farming depends a great deal on stability and continuity.  Long-term leases are particularly valuable as they allow long-term planning and provide the tenant a greater interest in conserving the farm’s natural resources.  It is, therefore, crucial to protect the tenure of such leases.  Protections can be put in place within the lease agreement itself, and are also available through state law.  It is important to understand and follow state recording statutes in order to take advantage of these protections, and in some cases to avoid fines.  It should be noted that lease agreements not subject to the statute can often times still be recorded.


Iowa Code § 558.44 requires all leases, and other conveyances, of agricultural land for a duration of five years or more be recorded with the county recorder’s office.  Either party must record the lease, or a memorandum of the lease details, within 180 days of the commencement of the lease.  Failure to record the lease within 180 days will not invalidate the lease and can still be recorded, but it can result in a fine of $100 per day after the expiration of the 180 day period to be collected from either the lessor or the lessee.


Indiana Code Sections 32-31-2-1 and 32-31-2-2 require all leases of real estate for longer than three years be recorded in the county recorder’s office.  The lease must be recorded within 45 days of its execution or it will be void against the claims of subsequent purchasers, lessees, or mortgagees.


Missouri Statute Sections 442.380 and 442.390 requires every written instrument affecting real estate to be recorded in the county recorder’s office and protects the recorded interest from claims made subsequent to the recording.  The case, Jennings v. Sparkman, held that leases fall into the category of instruments affecting real estate and should be recorded in the county real estate records.[1]

[1] 39 Mo. App. 663, 1890 WL 1583 (1890).