Amnesty key to future of farm tenancies

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

1st December 2019


Amnesty key to future of farm tenancies

STFA warns more than half of tenants still to make a start

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) has warned that more than half of Scotland’s tenant farmers are in danger of not completing the amnesty on tenant’s improvements. The amnesty, initiated by Scottish Land and Estates, has been hailed as one of the main benefits to tenants in the 2016 Land Reform Act. It created a mechanism enabling landlords and tenants to make a definitive record of improvements even if proper procedures were not followed. The amnesty began on 13th June 2017 and will expire in just over 6 months on 12th June 2020. Experience has shown that the amnesty process is likely to take at least 6 months so anyone not making a start in the next few weeks is likely to run of time.

In issuing his stark warning, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said; “We have spent the last week meeting and talking to tenants up and down the country and it has become plain that although most of those who attended the meetings had either finished their amnesties or were working at them, they are in the minority, and the vast bulk of tenants have not even made a start.

“The importance of the amnesty cannot be stressed enough. Not only is it a once in a lifetime opportunity to make good some of the mistakes of the past and ensure that investments made by generations of tenants are officially recognised, but it is also key to using many of the new provisions in the 2016 Act and to the future of your tenancy.

“For example; an agreed list of tenants improvements and other works are crucial for transferring the tenancy to the next generation and for receiving end of tenancy compensation; the new rent test is based on what the holding can produce with what the landlord provided and will depend on an agreed list of improvements and fixtures so they can be disregarded; and, thirdly, knowing who owns what is vital in the event that either the tenant buys out the landlord’s interest or vice versa.

“In short, there will never be another amnesty and future generations may will live to regret that their forebears neglected this golden opportunity to put everything in order. We would strongly urge all tenants to make a start immediately.”

STFA ‘Planning for the Future’ meetings continue this week with Bute on Monday 2nd (Victoria Hotel), Inverness on Wed. 4th (Jury’s Inn) and Thainstone on Thurs. 5th (Glengarioch Suite AMN). All meetings start at 7.30pm with Davidson and Robertson, the Tenant Farming Commission and Shepherd and Wedderburn speaking, accompanied by Ian Davidson the National Adviser to the new Land Matching Service. All tenants are welcome and non-members have the opportunity to join on the night.