Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

1st June 2017


The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed the announcement from Buccleuch Estates that the Estate is in advanced discussions with a number of tenant farmers on Limited Partnership agreements with a view to either them purchasing the farms they rent or converting the Limited Partnership tenancies to alternative long-term arrangements. This announcement follows concerns raised by STFA regarding the reports that some of Scotland’s largest estates were taking steps to bring Limited Partnership tenancies to an end, often with a view to replacing them with trees.

Limited Partnership tenancies were originally devised as a way of circumventing security of tenure and between the 1980s and the creation of limited duration tenancies in 2003 they were just about the only type of tenancy available. There are now less than 400 of these tenancies still in existence, comparted to 1200 in 2003.

LP tenancies were either let for a set period of time, occasionally up to the retirement date of the tenant, or for an initial period which was either renewed when it came to an end for a further defined period or, more commonly the tenancy rolled on under tacit relocation on a year to year basis. Tenants holding their leases under tacit relocation will usually be those who will have occupied the farm for longest and have invested the most, but are also the most vulnerable.

Commenting on the situation STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: “STFA has been concerned about the future of tenants in Limited Partnership tenancies and the vulnerable position in which they find themselves and we share the views of the AHLRG and the Tenant Farming Commissioner that this as an unsatisfactory situation and discussions should take place between landlord and tenant to ensure that there is a long-term approach to land management leaving ample time to discuss the aspirations of both parties before decisions regarding the future of the farm are made.

“We appreciate that many landowners will want to move Limited Partnership tenancies on to a more satisfactory basis, but we have been concerned that some of the actions taken have been insensitive and on occasion callous with little consideration for the tenants concerned and scant regard to industry agreed guidlines.   We are therefore pleased to hear that Buccleuch Estate is taking steps to enter into discussions with their tenants to agree a mutually beneficial way forward for their farming businesses in line with Guidance issued by the Interim Government Adviser, andrew Thin, soon to be incorporated into a Code of Practice by the Tenant Farming Commissioner.

“Buccleuchs decision to sell some farms and to grant longer term tenancies to others is a constructive move and welcome.  STFA hopes that other landlords will follow suit in their dealings with Limited Partnership tenants, abiding by the codes of practice which lay out a procedure which should be followed when initiating discussions about bringing a LP tenancy to an end.  In particular, if partnerships are to be dissolved or tenancies brought to an end, formal notices should not be served before discussions have taken place and attempts made to reach a mutually agreeable solution.

“It should also be remembered that most of  tenants in limited partnership arrangements will be in mid-career having farmed the land for well over twenty years and many will also have sons or daughters who would like to follow in their footsteps. The circumstances and aspirations of these farming families should be taken into account before decisions are made about the future of their farms.”