Following the publication of a statement by the Scottish Tenant Farmers’ Associations, Scottish Land & Estates issued the following statement.
David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: “There is no evidence that landlords are trying to increase rents ahead of the Land Reform Bill being passed by the Scottish Parliament, and it is regrettable that the STFA appears to be making such ill-founded accusations - without providing evidence to support its claims – in what appears to be a clear attempt to influence the parliamentary process. We need evidence not speculation at a time when the Scottish Parliament is deliberating complex agricultural legislation which includes rent reviews.
"It is not uncommon for cases to be referred to the Land Court for determination. However, it is more often than not a holding exercise allowing discussions on the rent to continue and many cases are resolved without going to a hearing. This procedure is recognised in the Joint Industry Guidance on rent reviews.
"If there is evidence of rent reviews not being conducted in accordance with industry guidance then we ask for these cases to be referred to the Joint Industry Group of which STFA, NFUS and Scottish Land & Estates are partners. That group may then refer the matter to the Government’s Interim Advisor on Tenant Farming. Where a few cases have been brought to our attention we have acted accordingly and a solution has been found.
"The industry guidance - which has only been in place since August - is recognised by government and industry as having great potential to make a positive difference. The Interim Advisor highlighted this point at recent roadshow meetings involving landlords, tenants and agents.
“Landlords wishing to review rents have to give notice more than a year in advance and it is widely recognised as good practice to review rents in line with the statutory three year cycle. A review means exactly that and it may be the result that the rent is frozen or even reduced.
"We have consistently said that landlords will do what they can to try to avoid the time and expense of going to the Land Court but on occasions lodging of cases in the Land Court may be part of the process including circumstances when the referral has occurred due to a lack of engagement by the tenant or the tenant’s agent when the landlord has followed the industry guidance.”