About

Posts by :

GOVERNMENT URGED TO ALLOCATE CONVERGENCE MONEY WISELY AND FAIRLY

GOVERNMENT URGED TO ALLOCATE CONVERGENCE MONEY WISELY AND FAIRLY

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

6th November 2019

GOVERNMENT URGED TO ALLOCATE CONVERGENCE MONEY WISELY AND FAIRLY

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is urging the Scottish Government to think carefully before allocating the hard won convergence money which is causing so much controversy. The Cabinet Secretary has a difficult balancing act in distributing the new funding fairly and managing the expectations of different sectors of the industry, particularly the crofting sector who believe they are not receiving due benefit from the government proposals.  It now appears that, thanks to the vigorous lobbying of the Crofting Federation, an attempt is being to address their concerns by introducing a further £10 million from the second tranche of £80 million to be distributed to those farming in the most marginal areas in 2019/20.

Commenting on the situation STFA Director Angus McCall said: “The Scottish government, has now put some more flesh on the bones, of the proposals for distributing the convergence money. As anticipated, they have not pleased everybody, although they will go some way towards helping many in Region 1 whose low historic payments were setting them at a disadvantage during the convergence period.  As has been recognised, it is only fair that the bulk of the funding is delivered to those in the more marginal areas and the Cabinet Secretary has moved swiftly to address concerns expressed by the Crofting Federation, that active farmers and crofters in Regions 2 & 3 were not receiving their rightful share.

“However, the current proposals only relate to the first tranche of £80 million and we look forward to discussing how make the best use of the next £80 million and we understand that will include discussion on the design of a replacement for the LFASS.

“As well as being seen as compensation for having had £160 million withheld, the convergence money has the potential to give the industry a one-off financial boost at a time when it is most needed and consequently it must be spent wisely on those who will derive most benefit from it, and that means excluding the non-active. To achieve this, we would like to see convergence monies in Region 2 & 3 land being restricted to farmers and crofters in receipt of LFASS, thus ensuring non-active farmers or land managers do not benefit from the windfall payments.  In effect this would include land, currently in receipt of single farm payments, which has been or is in the process of being converted to forestry or about to be planted with trees, land with no stock and slipper farmers.

“STFA believes that the higher rates of convergence payments, especially on large areas in Regions 2 & 3 would give rise to undeserved over-compensation and has urged Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, to introduce a cap on payments.

“STFA has also spoken to the Cabinet Secretary, to press him to regard the convergence money as an opportunity to establish a fund to address the anomaly of new entrants who were unable to draw down entitlements from the National Reserve. These new entrants have been operating at a disadvantage without the benefit of support payments and an injection of cash would provide a welcome cash boost to help develop their businesses.

STFA WELCOMES CONVERGENCE ANNOUNCEMENT

STFA WELCOMES CONVERGENCE ANNOUNCEMENT

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

29th October 2019

STFA WELCOMES CONVERGENCE ANNOUNCEMENT

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed today’s announcement by the Scottish Government that the first £80 million of the £160 million of convergence money, historically due to Scotland, has been allocated and will be distributed to active farmers and crofters with a focus on those farming in the uplands, hills and islands. Further details on how the funding is to be distributed are to be made available in due course.

Commenting on the news, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said; “This news is obviously very welcome at a time when agriculture faces huge uncertainty about future trade, availability of markets and support arrangements. The likelihood of an imminent general election only adds to the confusion, especially as current support payments have only been guaranteed until the end of the current parliament and the length of any future transition period is still undecided.

“This money represents compensation from under-payment of Pillar 1 support payments and it is generally accepted that it should stay in Pillar 1. However, as expected, there are differing views as to who should receive the top-up payment and the Cabinet Secretary has some difficult decisions to make which will not please everyone.  There is little detail in the announcement of how the first tranche of convergence money will be distributed and whether or not the second installment of £80 million will be distributed in the same manner.

“STFA agrees that the bulk of the convergence payments should be received by those farming in the more marginal less favoured areas, but care should be taken to ensure that they are only distributed to farmers and crofters who are actively farming the land and are in the most need. Holders of large tracts of land with minimal activity should be excluded or at least have their payments capped, to avoid over- compensation.  Moreover, convergence payments should be denied to land, currently in receipt of single farm payments, which has been or is in the process of being converted to forestry.  Most of these aims could be achieved by using the LFASS mechanism as a delivery template.

“STFA is writing to Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing, to suggest that this should be seen as an opportunity to address the anomaly of new entrants who were unable to draw down entitlements from the National Reserve. These new entrants have been operating at a disadvantage without the benefit of support payments and an injection of cash would provide a welcome cash boost to help develop their businesses.”

SUCCESSION HANDBOOK WELCOMED BY TENANTS

SUCCESSION HANDBOOK WELCOMED BY TENANTS

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

26th August 2019

 

 

SUCCESSION HANDBOOK WELCOMED BY TENANTS

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) warmly welcomes today’s publication of the latest Guidance on Succession from the Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, which summarises some of the legal basics and outlines the ways in which an agricultural tenancy can be passed on to another person.

Succession planning is important to all farming businesses, especially to tenant farmers who are not only faced with handing over the business assets to the next generation but also have to consider the best way to pass on the lease on the tenanted holding. Traditionally the farming lease could only be transferred to a restricted group of near relatives following the death of the tenant. The succession process presented a number of tripwires for the unwary and gave the landlord additional grounds to object to the tenant for up to two years. In short it provided an opportunity to take advantage of a break in the lease and explore the possibility of taking the land back in hand, and without taking expert legal advice, a number of tenanted families lost the secure family tenancy.

The position has dramatically altered since the 2003 Act with a number of reforms to succession, culminating in the 2016 Land Reform Act which have widened the class of people who can now inherit a 1991 tenancy. The process of assignation and succession has been simplified and many of the obstacles removed, including the infamous “two man rule” restricting the size of holdings being transferred.

Commenting on the new Guidance, STFA Director, Angus McCall said; “Succession planning and encouraging the next generation into agriculture is very much top of the agenda just now. Changes in tenancy law over the past couple of decades have broadened the scope of succession and simplified the process of reducing the average age of the tenant farmer. Gone are the days when elderly tenants found themselves “stuck” in their tenancies, having to wait till after their day before passing on their lease and then only to a small group of close relatives.

“The straitjacket of succession has now been loosened and tenants can now transfer their farming businesses at the time of their choosing to a much wider class of relative, allowing them to step aside and avoid many of the pitfalls which can still exist in relying on succession after death. Lifetime assignation of a tenancy has been one of the success stories of tenancy reform with dozens of older farmers now able to enjoy a well-earned retirement with the next generation safely ensconced in the tenanted family farm.

“Transferring a tenancy is still complicated and requires good legal advice, but Bob McIntosh’s Guide to the Transfer of Tenancies by Assignation and Succession will greatly assist succession planning and prove to be a valuable handbook to all tenants as they plan the best way to pass their tenancies on to the next generation.”

STFA – TAXATION NOT LEGISLATION KEY TO SUCCESS OF TENANTED SECTOR

STFA – TAXATION NOT LEGISLATION KEY TO SUCCESS OF TENANTED SECTOR

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

23rd July 2019

 

STFA – TAXATION NOT LEGISLATION KEY TO SUCCESS OF TENANTED SECTOR

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is calling on the Scottish Government and the agricultural industries on both sides of the border to join forces in lobbying the UK government to bring forward changes to the taxation regime to stimulate a more resilient and sustainable tenanted sector with greater opportunities for new entrants and progressing farmers.

DEFRA has been consulting on reforms to the tenanted sector in England and Wales but have omitted consider the potential impact of taxation changes on the letting of land, despite strong pressure from the industry. Taxation is generally reserved to the UK government but there is general agreement that changes to the taxation regime could benefit the tenanted sector and should be included in the DEFRA reforms.

STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson commented: “Taxation reform rather than legislative change is key to encouraging more letting of land, increasing opportunities for new entrants and increasing the productivity and the efficiency of agricultural land use. Scotland’s tenanted sector has seen some major changes over the last couple of decades some of which are still to be implemented and, despite some negative comments, there is evidence that the new types of tenancy are becoming more popular with more land being let for periods of more than 10 years. Existing 1991 secure tenancies are in good heart and benefitting from the new measures in the recent Land Reform Act encouraging succession, inward investment and innovation leading to the sector becoming more resilient, more profitable and more sustainable. There are also regular movements of retiring tenants leaving the industry creating opportunities for new tenants if conditions for letting were right.

“The lack of land to rent is a UK wide problem, with similar frustrations felt by new entrants, largely because of their inability to compete with existing farming businesses. Despite the rhetoric from some of the landed interests extolling the benefits of freedom of contract, the tenanted sector in England and Wales has remained largely static over the last 15 years in spite of the introduction of Farm Business Tenancies in 1995.

Writing in the STFA Newsletter, TFA’s George Dunn has also commented that the short-term nature of FBTs has failed to improve efficiency within UK agriculture. ‘Over the nearly 25 years of the legislation the length of term on an FBT has averaged just under four years. Worryingly, fully equipped holdings, which would be expected to be let for much longer terms, have an average duration of less than 10 years. As we approach half of all land let being under FBT’s it is worrying, to say the least, that 85% of new farm tenancies are let for terms of 5 years or under.’

Mr Dunn continues, ‘The short-term nature of agricultural tenancies is holding back progression, investment, sustainable land use and productivity on farms. With much higher demand for farmland than supply, landlords can offer short-terms, for high rents at very little risk whilst at the same time pocketing generous and unconstrained tax benefits which the TFA argues must be addressed.’

“The TFA puts the blame for failures in the tenanted sector down to the imbalance of supply and demand of land for farmland, enabling landlords to offer short-term lets for high rents

whilst at the same time pocketing generous and unconstrained tax benefits which the TFA argues must be addressed.”

STFA agrees with the TFA and is calling for some small and generally fiscally neutral taxation changes which could make all the difference to the letting of land:

  1. Restricting the generous, 100% Agricultural Property Relief from Inheritance Tax to those prepared to let for 10 years or more.
  2. Clamping down on those landowners using share farming, contract farming, share partnerships and grazing licences as thin veneers of trading activity and as vehicles for aggressive tax avoidance.
  3. Offering landlords prepared to let land for 10 years or more the ability to declare their income as if it was trading income for taxation purposes, rather than unearned income.

The above tax measures are all reserved to Westminster, however, it is within the scope of devolved powers for the Scottish Government to:

4) Reform Land Business Transaction Tax (LBTT) to end the discrimination against longer tenancies, and;

5) Ensure that landlords on publicly owned land where the government has some influence, such as the Crown Estate to use 10 year + MLDTs as the default.

STFA believes that as we contemplate entering a post Brexit era, the time is right to modernise the tax regime to bolster the tenanted sector by creating opportunities for new entrants, encourage longer term tenancies for progressing farmers and build on the potential of the current structure of land tenure rather than look to creating yet more tenancy legislation and further uncertainty as has been suggested.

 

 

Tenants urged to act as amnesty deadline approaches

Tenants urged to act as amnesty deadline approaches

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

12th June 2019

Tenants urged to act as amnesty deadline approaches

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is warning all tenant farmers that the countdown to the amnesty deadline has begun in earnest and warns that with only one year to go, tenants stand to lose a lifetime opportunity to safeguard the future of their tenancies unless they act immediately.

The amnesty is one of the provisions of the Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2016 and allows for certain past improvements carried out by the tenant to become eligible for waygo compensation despite missing notices or consents. The amnesty only lasts for a 3 year period during which a tenant may notify his landlord of the works carried out on the farm which he wishes to be registered as improvements. The amnesty expires on 13th June 2020.

STFA has stressed the importance of the amnesty as not only being essential for agreeing what will be eligible for compensation at waygo, but also essential for the new rent test and for clarifying who owns what for the benefit of future generations.

Commenting on the urgency of the situation, STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said; “The amnesty is an incredible opportunity for tenants to rectify past mistakes and omissions in their paperwork which, in the normal course of events, would disallow them from receiving waygo compensation for many of the improvements made over the course of the tenancy. For many people this could be the difference between coming out of the tenancy with a comfortable nest egg or leaving with very little bar the value of your stock. Even if you have no intention of giving up the tenancy it makes sense to get everything in order and the amnesty will be essential for future rent reviews to ensure tenants are not charged rent on their own improvements. Tenants should remember that the amnesty has the blessing of the landlords, after all, it was their idea!

“So, it is worrying to hear that there are so many tenants who have not even begun to think about taking part in the amnesty. Anecdotally it would appear that only a couple of hundred out of 4,000 – 5,000 tenants will have even made a start and, unless they get going in the next few weeks, they will literally run out of time. We estimate that on average it will take at least six months to negotiate and agree the amnesty even with a fair wind and a cooperative landlord. If agreement cannot be reached before the deadline, the tenant will have to consider serving a formal notice, which triggers the official process, which is bound by strict timelines and still requires all the evidence and justification up front which means there is no time to waste.

“We would advise any tenant unsure how to proceed to visit STFA Stand 465 on Avenue 4 at the Highland Show where there will be professional advice on hand and the Tenant farming Commissioner will be present on Thursday and Friday afternoon or contact the Land Commission on Stand 461. STFA and the Tenant Farming Commissioner are at the show to help, so come and see us. Remember that you must act now as time is short and there is NO chance of an extension to the amnesty. Use it or you will lose it!”

STFA welcomes the latest release of public sector land for the creation of starter farms

STFA welcomes the latest release of public sector land for the creation of starter farms

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

                                                                                                                    30th May 2019

 Scottish Tenant Farmers Association welcomes the latest release of public sector land for the creation of starter farms

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association welcomes the news from Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing that more than 6,400 ha of publicly owned land will be made available to new entrants and young farmers looking to grow their businesses. Much of this has come from Forestry and Land Scotland’s portfolio of purchased farm which is not suited to tree planting.

This is part of the Scottish Government’s commitment to make available publicly owned land for letting to new entrants and the amount of available land from public bodies is expected to increase, with 2,800 ha already having been identified on the Forestry Estate.

Commenting on the initiative, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: ‘Creating opportunities for new entrants to get into farming can only be good news. Historically, Scottish new entrants have been at a disadvantage compared with south of the border where over 2,500 County Council owned farms have traditionally provided an entry to the tenanted sector.  However, Scottish Government are making progress by finding farming opportunities on publicly owned land, an initiative STFA campaigned for over a decade ago.’

‘It is important to remember that it is not just starter farms which are required, but also the next rung on the farming ladder, so that having built up capital and stock these new entrants can progress on to larger holdings. It is reassuring to see that there has been a good uptake of the new style limited duration leases (SLDTs and LDTs) in Scotland over recent years, with an increase in land let under SLDTs and LDTs of over 140,000 ha since 2014.  Clearly there are opportunities, but it is difficult for those starting out to compete with established owner-occupiers and many farms are let privately without being put on the open market.

‘However, there is still more that can be done to create further rungs in the farming ladder for those coming out of starter farms: The important Relinquishing and Assignation provision of the Land Reform Act 2016 is yet to be commenced which will work to allow secure tenants without successors to retire by assigning their leases to new entrants and developing farmers should their landlord not wish to take the holding back in hand.  DEFRA are currently consulting on a similar proposal for England and Wales as part of a package to improve their tenanted sector.’

‘Further improvements to the tenanted sector could be brought about by reviewing the fiscal framework within which landowners operate. With fiscal policy largely reserved for Westminster, the Tenant Farmers Association of England and Wales have identified a number of fiscal changes needed to encourage more land lettings and longer term lengths.  Ireland identified a similar problem and in 2015 introduced tax changes to encourage longer lettings which are already having a positive effect.’

 

 

TFC guidance on the conduct of agents welcomed by STFA

TFC guidance on the conduct of agents welcomed by STFA

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

                                                                                                          16th April 2019 

STFA welcomes the publication of TFC guidance on the conduct of agents

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association welcomes the recent publication by the Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC) of a guide to the professional conduct of agents and how to make a complaint against an agent who ignores accepted standards.

The guidance has been published following the TFC’s review of agents in 2018 which showed that while relationships between tenants, landlords and agents were in general good, there was still room for improvement.

Commenting on the guidance, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: ‘While the majority of agents operate in a positive manner with regard for the interests of both their client and other parties which leads to healthy relationships between landlord and tenant, there are a small but significant minority who sometimes fail to adhere to the relevant standards expected of professionals. The key areas of dissatisfaction with agents are generally poor communication, lack of transparency in negotiations, insensitive behaviour, and a lack of consideration of the impact their conduct has on long term relationships between landlord and tenant.’

‘One of the main obstacles to improving the conduct of agents is the reluctance of either party to make a formal complaint against poor behaviour. Agents are unlikely to make a complaint against a fellow agent, and tenants often believe that making a complaint will only aggravate an already difficult situation. Attitudes to making complaints need to change, so that raising a complaint is seen as a positive and helpful process leading to improved professional conduct instead of the negative finger pointing which complaints are sometimes perceived as. Bad practice can only be rooted out if complaints are made which can lead to investigations. This latest guidance from the TFC can only help in improving professional standards.’

 

STFA welcomes intervention by the Tenant Farming Commissioner to reach agreement for Borders tenant farmer

STFA welcomes intervention by the Tenant Farming Commissioner to reach agreement for Borders tenant farmer

 

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

                                                                                                                    3rd March 2019

 

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association welcomes intervention by the Tenant Farming Commissioner to reach agreement for Borders tenant farmer

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association welcomes the announcement today from the Tenant Farming Commissioner that a solution has been found to allow a tenant farmer to remain on a farm he rented from Buccleuch Estates.

David and Alison Telfer occupy Cleuchfoot Farm on Buccleuch Estates near Langholm on a short limited duration lease. The couple wished to remain on the holding until their retirement and said they had received verbal assurance from the previous Duke of Buccleuch which would allow them to remain as tenants beyond the end of their short limited duration lease.

Buccleuch Estates had wished to bring the Telfers’ occupation of the holding to an end earlier than their original planned retirement date in order to sell the farm and adjoining hill ground with the immediate prospect of vacant possession.

Last year the Telfers approached the Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, in an attempt to reach an agreement between Buccleuch and the buyers to allow the Telfers to remain on the farm until their retirement. Through discussion with all the parties, a satisfactory agreement has now been achieved.

Commenting on the agreement reached through the intervention of Bob McIntosh, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: ‘This is a clear demonstration of how the Tenant Farming Commissioner can help tenants who believe they have been put in an unfair position by their landlord, and credit is due to Bob McIntosh and the land Commission for enabling this agreement which is satisfactory for both tenant and landlord. We would also like to pay tribute to regional MSP Joan McAlpine for her hard work behind the scenes in ensuring a fair outcome for the Telfers. The new owners, James Jones & Sons Ltd, must also be given credit for extending the Telfer’s lease, despite being under no legal obligation to do so.’

‘If the Telfers had not been prepared to stand up and make their case to the Tenant Farming Commissioner then they would likely be leaving their farm, home and livelihood this year. The lesson is clear, tenants need to be prepared to take their cases to the Commissioner when they find themselves in difficult situations. Unfortunately there is still a belief amongst tenants that taking a dispute to the Commissioner will risk the wrath of their landlord and make matters worse. However, it is time for attitudes to change, and the now two year record of the Land Commission shows that disputes can be resolved amicably with a timely intervention from the Tenant Farming Commissioner.’

 

Land Commission Report – a Milestone in Land Reform

Land Commission Report – a Milestone in Land Reform

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

20th March 2019

Land Commission Report – a Milestone in Land Reform

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has warmly welcomed today’s publication of the Scottish Land Commission’s report on Large Scale and Concentrated Land ownership in Scotland. The report has found that concentrated land ownership is having significant impacts on rural communities across Scotland and has made a series of recommendations to ministers to address these adverse effects and to stimulate a more productive and dynamic pattern of landownership.

The detailed set of recommendations include:

  • Legal powers to subject large land sales to public interest tests in special cases in order to stop owners having excessive power.
  • A requirement for owners of large estates to draw up management plans that involve local communities.
  • Powers to investigate cases where landowners abuse their power, which could lead to compulsory purchase or community buyouts.
  • New ways to increase the number of small and privately-owned estates, farms and forests.

Commenting on the report, STFA Chairman, Christopher Nicholson said: “This report represents a major milestone in the Land Commission’s work setting the direction for the next phase of Land Reform. In representing the interests of tenant farmers STFA is acutely aware of the impact a monopoly of landownership can have on tenant farmers, rural communities and those who live and work on the land and is pleased to see these concerns are a key feature of the report.

“Over the last decade, the land reform agenda has improved the lot of the tenant farmer, encouraged better landlord behaviour, increased confidence and investment in tenanted farms and helped a good number of tenant farmers to purchase their farms. However, there are still some pockets where landownership is concentrated in a few hands and tenant farmers have found themselves reluctant to speak out and consequently unable to take advantage of opportunities to diversify or invest in their holdings. STFA therefore welcomes the report’s recognition that there are areas of concern where individuals are still “feart of the laird”.

“In particular we welcome the report’s recommendation that local communities should be allowed a greater role in influencing the planning and decision-making process, particularly where it involves land-use change in their locality.   Large scale conversion of agricultural land to forestry, for example, should be subject to planning constraints and should not take place without the agreement of local people, especially where it alters the character of the area and involves the displacement of tenant farmers and others to make way for tree planting.

“Similarly, STFA would agree with the Land Commission that the government should review fiscal incentives for forestry and renewable energy so that they are not only consistent with community empowerment, rural development and land reform objective but also do not advantage one sector at the expense of another as is increasingly becoming the situation with tree planting and the drive towards renewable energy by diverting land away from food production.

“STFA now looks forward to discussing the report with the Land Commission in greater detail and in particular the influence that a concentrated pattern of land management has on the rural community, with only a couple of land agent firms managing the vast bulk of rural Scotland.”

The experiences of farm tenants in areas of concentrated land ownership within the tenanted sector demonstrate the ability for large landowners to exercise disproportionate influence and power. In contrast, in areas where the large estates have been sold and have a more fragmented ownership structure, a new tenanted sector has developed where there is a better balance of power between landowner and tenant. These areas benefit from improved fairness and equality, have more confident and resilient communities, and demonstrate increased investment and entrepreneurialism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commissioner’s Code on Leases Welcomed by Sector

Commissioner’s Code on Leases Welcomed by Sector

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

7th March 2019

 

Commissioner’s Code on Leases Welcomed by Sector

Bob McIntosh, the Tenant Farming Commissioner has, today, issued his latest Code of Practice, “Agreeing and Managing Agricultural Leases”, directed towards landowners, tenant farmers and land agents. This is the sixth Code of Practice issued by the Land Commission and is intended to ensure that there are robust procedures in place to avoid misunderstandings when a lease is being entered into, when changes are made throughout the term of the lease and when a fixed duration lease is being ended.

In supporting this latest code of practice, STFA Chairman, Christopher Nicholson said; “Scarcity of tenanted land is not a new phenomenon and competition for vacant farms has always been fierce. It is true today as it was forty years ago that tenants, having made a successful bid for a farm, are quite likely to sign up to a lease without fully understanding its consequences and implications. Fortunately, the new duration tenancies as well as recent reforms to tenancy law have given a great deal of added protection to the tenanted sector and the consequences nowadays of making a mistake will not be as serious as in the past, when signing a lease committed future generations as well as the present one.

“Similarly, it has not been uncommon for secure tenants to sign away their security of tenure for the sake of obtaining more land, a new shed or even just a rent reduction. Dozens of these tenants are now facing a very insecure future in Limited Partnership tenancies which can and often have been, brought to an end with very little notice.

“Recent legislation has outlawed practices such as post lease and write down agreements for tenant’s improvements, but there are a number of tenants who have now found that they have signed away a valuable asset without realising what they are doing.

“We would join with Bob McIntosh in encouraging all tenants to thoroughly examine their leases and pay special attention to any new agreement they are about to sign. Anyone signing a new MLDT or an SLDT should be absolutely clear what the terms are and who is responsible for what and what happens when the lease reaches the end of its term.

“STFA has also been made aware of some tenants of 1991 secure tenancies who have been asked by their landlord to renew their leases for taxation purposes, for the landlord’s benefit, (leases entered into before 1995 are only eligible for 50% inheritance tax relief, whereas post 1995 leases attract 100% relief). In most cases tenants have taken good legal advice and ensured that the new lease has the same benefits as the old one, including carrying forward tenant’s improvements, but there are a minority where this has not happened and the tenant’s family’s investment in the holding has been lost.

“Reluctant though many of us may be to enrich the legal profession, there are times when consulting a lawyer pays off!”