Scottish Land & Estates, which represents landowners across Scotland, today announced that it is to propose an unprecedented ‘amnesty’ for farm tenancy improvements.
The initiative will form part of a range of suggestions that Scottish Land & Estates will be making in its submission to the Scottish Government’s Agricultural Holdings Review and is designed to help encourage movement and confidence within the let sector and bring to an end the continuing ‘corrosive’ debate on improvements.
The proposals include:-
- A one-year amnesty period for notification of tenants’ improvements.
- Improvements notified during this period will be eligible to be treated as qualifying improvements if, as at the date of notification, the improvement is something that should be provided to maintain efficient production. The amount of compensation due on waygo will be the sum fairly representing the value of the improvement to an incoming tenant.
- Improvements will be eligible for notification even if subject to an existing write down agreement.
Douglas McAdam, chief executive of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “Our members share a vision for Scottish agriculture to be as successful and thriving as possible as they are very much part of the industry as farmers themselves as well as landowners. They want to see a vibrant tenanted sector as much as anyone.
”We are glad to have the opportunity to set out our vision for the future of the sector in our evidence to the Agricultural Holdings Review - a vision reflecting the fact that the industry should be addressing the challenges of the future in a collaborative and constructive way.
“We believe – as many others do – there is a compelling argument for greater flexibility in the system and we will be suggesting a package of measures that would help achieve that.
“There is, however, a need to resolve matters that are destructive to the sector. Absolute right to buy is the most obvious but compensation for improvements is one area where we think that progress can be made for the benefit of tenants and the industry in general. That is why we are making a positive and constructive proposal with this amnesty as part of our overall submission to the Review.”
Andrew Howard, a Scottish Land & Estates representative on the Tenant Farming Forum, said: “The debate on compensation for improvements has gone on for too long and has a corrosive effect.
“We are firm in the belief there should be fair and proper compensation for tenants improvements and recognise that there is a problem for farmers who have made improvements and are facing the prospect of not being compensated because they did not serve notice as they should have under the legislation. If that results in someone feeling they cannot afford to leave the tenancy, or that they have been unfairly treated, then it is in the interests of the sector for this to be addressed.
“Furthermore, this measure would give all tenants – not just those looking for compensation in the near future - clarity and certainty over improvements they have carried out but are nevertheless unsure if they qualify for compensation.
“The proposal would affect improvements covered by write down agreements whether ended or still in force to ensure equality of treatment. Whilst we do not in general terms support retrospective legislation we believe there is a requirement in this case in the interests of fairness and the future of the sector.”