22.214.171.124 Tenancy Reforms
However successful the first step of the agrarian reform
turned out to be in achieving its objective of eliminating
functionless revenue collectors, the efforts to improve the
situation of the majority of the tenants proved to be ineffectual.
The objective of the tenancy reform laws was to establish
and strengthen the tenants' rights. To that end, a minimum
leasing period of 5 to 10 years was introduced, and eviction
was only allowed on the basis of specific reasons. Sub-leasing
was forbidden and, in the case of eviction, the tenant was
to be paid compensation for his investments. Finally, the
tenant was granted the right to purchase the land he cultivated.
Sub-tenants who had cultivated a plot of land for already
more than 12 years gained the status of occupancy tenants
and were, thus, protected against eviction. The laws foresaw
a restriction of the rent to one third to one sixth of the
gross harvest, and payment of the land tax was shifted to
These measures proved to be an extremely serious encroachment
on the lessors' rights. This is why it became indispensable
to offer them an alternative in way of compensation. Before
the laws were enforced, they were granted the right to give
notice in case they wanted to cultivate the land themselves.
Since the term "self cultivation" was not clearly
defined and was finally understood as "supervision of
cultivation," this meant a set back for the tenants.
Many of them were dismissed and reemployed as agricultural
labourers or sharecroppers. It was possible to reemploy them
as sharecroppers because the many types of sharecropping were
not defined as tenancy in the laws. Thus, a large number of
tenants lost their rights as a result of the laws passed to
improve their condition.
The other measures did not prove to be very successful either.
The poor administration which, moreover, was more on the side
of the landlords on account of its origin, simply could not
cope with the tasks of the tenancy reform. Here, it was not
only a question of a non-recurring control of the lease contracts,
but of the permanent enforcement of the regulations as well.
It proved to be particularly disadvantageous that the law
had not given any aid to the administration by means of tenants'
associations which would have had to be founded and which
could have examined specific cases at the local level. Besides,
the legal measures were sometimes very unrealistic. If the
usual rent has, for a long time, amounted to more than 50%
of the gross yields, the prospects of imposing, by law, rents
of 16% to 33% are negligible. The other measures are also
unfavourable to the conditions on the tenancy market. If there
is a great demand and a limited supply, some of the potential
tenants will always be prepared to make to the landlords concessions
which infringe the law.
Altogether, it can be ascertained that tenancy laws in the
two countries have not meant much success for the tenants.
The majority of the sharecroppers was not included in the
measures at all and, of the occupancy tenants, many lost their
status, and only a few gained anything at all.