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‘Mixed bag’ tenant farming measures need greater clarity

Following the publication of the Land Reform Bill by the Scottish Government today, Scottish Land & Estates issued the following statement on the Agricultural Holdings provisions contained in the Bill.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The Agricultural Holdings provisions contained within the Bill are – as they stand – a mixed bag for tenant farming.

“There is widespread support for the retention of the five-year Short Limited Duration Tenancy and the new Modern Limited Duration Tenancy is a vehicle that is more suitable for both tenants and landlords.

“We are supportive of the creation of a Tenant Farming Commissioner for Scotland and, hopefully, this will address tensions that emerge from time to time. We also welcome the amnesty on tenant improvements – a measure we put forward initially.

“However, there are other provisions within the Bill on Agricultural Holdings which continue to give us real cause for concern.

“The widening of succession rights for 1991 Act tenants is too broad and does not in our view strike the right balance of rights of interests of the tenant and the landlord. We strongly suggest that tests be applied where a successor should have to demonstrate a working connection to the farm.

“As regards conversion of 1991 Act tenancies to Limited Duration Tenancies, there remains a worrying lack of detail and whilst we have substantial concerns, it is in everyone’s interests that the period of the assigned lease should be determined as soon as possible and set at a level that would enable farmers to retire, attract younger farmers and protect the interests of the landlord.

“The provisions within the Bill on Rent Reviews is another area where we will have to wait to see what the modelling work that is due to be undertaken this summer reveals before arriving at any firm conclusion on how workable the measures are.

“The measures that have been laid out to enable tenants to apply to the Land Court to purchase a farm if the landlord has been in breach of obligations will have to be scrutinised very closely and it is of paramount importance that no landowner allows himself or herself to be close to the position where that measure may be implemented.”   

 

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