Industry bodies representing agricultural landlords and tenants from across Scotland have today launched new guidance to help landlords deal with situations where tenants fall behind with their rent.
The move follows the issuing of other joint guidance by the NFUS, SLE and STFA in relation to limited partnerships, rent reviews, tenants’ improvements, landlords’/tenants’ obligations, succession/assignation, compensation at way-go, and game management.
The guidance is based on existing legislation, and creates a framework to ensure that the deliberate late or non-payment of rent can be dealt with firmly while at the same time ensuring support where there are genuine mitigating circumstances.
It emphasises the responsibility that falls on all tenants to budget and avoid getting into arrears, but it also underlines an expectation that landlords will take all reasonable steps to ensure that tenants fully understand the potential consequences of late payment and have access to support when this is needed.
Welcoming the move, NFUS President Allan Bowie said:
“This guidance is a welcome step forward. There is no excuse for the deliberate late payment of rent by tenants, but equally there should be no place in 21st century Scotland for landlords who seek to evict tenants unless as a measure of last resort”.
“I particularly welcome the emphasis on ensuring that tenants have access to support when they need it. All of us go through difficult patches from time to time, and it is right that tenants should expect to be treated with understanding and sympathy while they resolve short term difficulties of this nature”.
SLE Chairman David Johnstone emphasised his organisation’s support for the guidance. He said:
“No owner of let property can be expected to operate without having an effective remedy to deal with the late or non-payment of rent, and I welcome the fact that the guidance fully recognises this”.
“This is not a widespread issue and landlords routinely provide help to tenants who find themselves experiencing genuine short term difficulties over rent. No responsible landlord would seek to exploit that kind of situation for personal advantage, and we do not see that happening very often. This guidance will help ensure that all parties who find themselves in a difficult situation can find a resolution. “
STFA Chairman Chris Nicholson also emphasised the theme of personal responsibility –
“Tenants understand very well that the landlord has financial obligations to meet just as the tenant does. Late payment of rent is in practice very rare, and only a maverick would do this deliberately”.
“It is worrying, however, that some landlords treat late payment of rent as an opportunity to try and bring the tenancy to an end, with little regard for the underlying circumstances or the impact of eviction on the tenant and his family. This guidance should help put an end to this kind of behaviour”.
The guidance was prepared with support from the Scottish Government’s Independent Adviser on Tenant Farming, Andrew Thin. A copy is available from the NFUS, SLE and STFA, or may be downloaded from www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/Agriculture/agricultural-holdings/Tenant-Farming-Adviser
For further information please telephone Andrew Thin on 07766 372626