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STFA WELCOMES PARLIAMENT’S APPROVAL OF RELINQUISHMENT AND ASSIGNATION

STFA WELCOMES PARLIAMENT’S APPROVAL OF RELINQUISHMENT AND ASSIGNATION

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

27th January 2021

STFA WELCOMES APPROVAL OF RELINQUISHMENT AND ASSIGNATION

 

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed the news today that the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee of the Scottish Parliament has approved all 3 SSIs to enact the Relinquishment and Assignation provisions in the Land Reform Act 2016. The new provisions will be ready for use from the 28th February.

Tenants wishing to retire now have a new statutory right to realise value for their tenancies and exit farming a time of their choosing with the prospect of a retirement package. The provisions enable an existing tenant to relinquish the tenancy on payment by the landlord of a statutory valuation based on the value of the tenancy and the tenant’s improvements.  Where the landlord does not wish to pay the tenant the statutory valuation to relinquish the tenancy, the tenant can assign it for value to a new entrant or progressing farmer.

Commenting on today’s decision by the REC Committee, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said:

“The tenanted sector will be delighted that, after a long and drawn-out consultation and legal examination, tenants wishing to retire and move on, now have the right to an exit route from farming which will provide them with an enhanced value for their tenancy above traditional statutory waygo compensation. In some cases the landlord will prefer to decline the relinquishment and let the tenant assign his lease to either a new entrant or a progressing farmer. This will create new opportunities and help open up the tenanted sector.

“STFA is aware that there are a number of tenants who have been waiting for years to relinquish their tenancies but we would caution them not to be too hasty, but to plan ahead and to take account of the implications of relinquishment and assignation such as taxation and the tight time scales laid out in the statutory process. The valuation is to be completed within an 8 week period and tenants must ensure that they are able to supply the valuer with all the necessary facts and figures, completion of an amnesty agreement or an agreed list of improvements will be essential in this regard.

“STFA is encouraging tenants wishing to retire to make an informal approach to their landlords before serving relinquishment notices and triggering the statutory process.   A number of informal relinquishments and assignations have already taken place over the past few years and there are a number of agents who are experienced in negotiating fair end of tenancy settlements with a willing landlord. Some landlords have been unwilling to enter into informal discussions, but this may change now that the statutory legislation is in place, we believe that most relinquishment and assignation agreements will take place through informal negotiation but guided by the statutory process

“The Tenant Farming Commissioner is in the process of drawing up detailed guidance on relinquishment and assignation, he is appointing a specialist valuers panel and valuation guidance is being drawn up and will available before the end of February when relinquishment and assignation provisions come into force.”

 

 

 

TENANTS STILL INVOLVED AMNESTY DISCUSSIONS MUST TAKE IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

TENANTS STILL INVOLVED AMNESTY DISCUSSIONS MUST TAKE IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

News Release

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

27th January 2021

 

STFA URGES TENANTS STILL INVOLVED IN AMNESTY DISCUSSIONS TO TAKE IMMEDIATE PROFESSIONAL ADVICE

 

The Tenant Farming Commissioner has just issued guidance for tenants who will be concluding their amnesty agreements after the end of the amnesty period – 12th December 2021. In light of this new guidance the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is advising all tenant farmers in this position to seek professional advice as a matter of urgency.

In the run up to the 12th December deadline an estimated 200 or more tenants served amnesty notices on their landlords in order to ensure that they would be able to take advantage of the amnesty and have their improvements agreed and recorded as eligible for end of tenancy compensation.   Serving an amnesty notice triggers a formal process by which the landlord has 2 months within which to object and following a landlord’s objection, a tenant has a further 2 month period to refer the matter to the Land Court. It was envisaged that this would give landlords and tenants an opportunity to agree their differences and conclude the amnesty.

However, recent legal opinion now suggests there may be doubt whether such agreements signed outside of the amnesty period are enforceable without ratification from the Land Court. In practice this means;

  • Where a landlord has made no objections to the improvements contained in the notice or has not replied by the end of the 2 month period, the tenant doesn’t need to do anything further other than make sure they keep a copy of the notice and proof of delivery safe.
  • Where the landlord objects to some but not every item and the tenant decides to accept the position, nothing further needs to be done, other than keeping a copy of the objection notice safely with the amnesty notice.
  • If the tenant wants to contest the position they must apply to the Land Court within 2 months of the objection notice. If they reach agreement with the landlord during that time, they still have to apply to the Land Court for approval of the list of agreed improvements, before the 2 month deadline expires.
  • Any agreement made after the end of the amnesty period on 12th December will need to be approved by the Land Court. Tenants who have signed amnesty agreements after 12th December should take professional advice as to how to proceed as soon as possible.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner’s guidance sets out the legal position and how to proceed in dealing with any landlord’s objections. The full text can be found on the Land Commission’s website;

www.landcommission.gov.scot/news-events/news

Commenting on the situation STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: “Although it is disappointing that a legal complication has arisen for those who have not yet completed their amnesties, it can be resolved providing the correct procedure is followed. We also anticipate that the process of obtaining Land Court approval for an agreed amnesty should not be onerous or expensive.

“Tenants who served notices towards the tail end of the amnesty period will be finding the statutory clock ticking and therefore, STFA strongly recommends that they seek professional advice as soon as possible. We would also remind all tenants who have taken part in the amnesty to keep copies of all documentation associated with the amnesty, particularly copies of the safe delivery of the formal notices and objection notices.

 

NEW MEASURES ON THE WAY TO BREAK TENANCY LOGJAM

NEW MEASURES ON THE WAY TO BREAK TENANCY LOGJAM

News Release

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

13th December 2020

 

 

NEW MEASURES ON THE WAY TO BREAK TENANCY LOGJAM

 

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) has welcomed last week’s news that legislation to implement the new Relinquishment and Assignation provisions in the 2016 Land Reform Act has begun its journey through the Scottish Parliament. Three Statutory Instruments enacting the provisions were laid on Friday 11th December and are expected to become law before the end of February 2021.

The aim of the new legislation is to enable secure tenants to realise the value in their tenancy should they relinquish it while at the same time potentially creating an opportunity for new entrants to farming. The provisions allow an existing tenant to relinquish the tenancy on payment by the landlord of a statutory valuation based on the value of the tenancy and the tenant’s improvements. If the landlord does not wish to pay the tenant the statutory valuation, the tenant can assign it for value to a new entrant or to an individual who is progressing in farming.

In response to the news STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson commented; “It has been a long haul to get this part of the Land Reform Act reform into practice and this news will be greatly welcomed by a number of tenants who have been waiting for the past three years to put their retirement plans into action and make way for the next generation. Delays in implementing relinquishment and assignation have been very frustrating for tenants who have felt time is not on their side. As the future of agriculture becomes ever more uncertain many tenants have felt they can wait no longer and have had to leave their farms without being able to benefit from the statutory relinquishment process.

“Last week’s announcement means the relinquishment option will be available in a couple of months’ time, giving those wishing to exit farming time to plan their futures. Given the statutory timescales, retiring tenants may be able to complete the relinquishment process by the end of 2021. The Tenant Farming Commissioner has an important statutory role to play in appointing an independent valuer to place a value on the tenant’s interest in the tenancy as well as his improvements. This is an entirely new procedure, and we can expect Bob McIntosh to update current guidelines shortly and establish a panel of trained valuers.

“Fortunately, in anticipation of the legislation, a number of relinquishments and assignations have been amicably agreed with landlords over the last couple of years, so the principles behind valuing tenancies and even assignations have already been tried and tested and some useful precedents set.

“The Land Reform Act has been a complex piece of legislation and, thanks to Brexit and the Covid pandemic, it is unlikely to be fully implemented in this parliament. Relinquishment and assignation are important pieces in the tenancy reform jigsaw and will help break the logjam at the top of the tenanted sector while also providing opportunities to encourage elderly tenants to retire and make way for the next generation of farmers.”

 

 

Stewart Jamieson – A life well lived

Stewart Jamieson – A life well lived

Stewart Jamieson – A life well lived

 

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Stewart Jamieson who passed away peacefully on 17th October 2020 at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh after a short illness. Stewart was a founding member of STFA and played an active role in helping to reform tenancy law in the 2003 Act and in the launching of STFA the following year.

Stewart was born in Clydebank in 1949 where his parents, Stewart and Jenny, farmed at Auchenleck until the family’s move to Kirkland Farm near Thornhill in Dumfries-shire. He was educated at Wallace Hall in Closeburn before studying Agriculture at Glasgow University in 1967 followed by a PhD in animal behaviour at Reading, completed in 1971. In 1972 he met his wife Frances (Fran) and married the following year.

In 1975 Stewart and Fran moved back to farm at Kirkland with Stewart’s parents where their three daughters, Mairi, Lisa and Anna were born. Stewart became heavily immersed in family life and, as well as running a large dairy unit, he managed to find the time to become involved in a range of committees and boards, including Roslin, Dairy Co Holstein Breeders and consultants CARA. In 2001 Stewart took on the new challenge of going organic and developed new ways of running the farm and managing his grazing.

In 2002 Stewart became involved with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Action Group which just had been set up to improve the rights of tenant farmers and give them an opportunity to buy their farms. Over the next year or so Stewart emerged as one of the leading lights in STFAG speaking up for tenants in the press, driving up and down to Edinburgh to meet with civil servants and other organisation as well as lobbying government and parliament. All this hard work resulted in radical changes to the Agricultural Holdings Bill in 2003 with most of STFAG’s demands being met.

In 2003 Stewart and Fran were delighted to accept Buccleuch Estates offer to buy Kirkland and Rosehill farms and Stewart achieved his dream of becoming an owner-occupier. Despite this, Stewart retained his interest in improving tenants’ rights and continued to play a leading role in the formation of the STFA in 2004 and remained on the Board of Directors until 2010.

In 2012 Stewart and Fran decided sell up and retire from farming. In doing so he was particularly delighted at being able to sell his herd, en bloc, and move them across the road to his neighbour’s farm. He and Fran then moved to their new home at the Glebe House in Terregles on the other side of Dumfries where they have spent an active retirement busy with grandchildren, gardening and golf. Stewart has also remained interested in agricultural and political events, and, of course football. He even found time to dabble in writing and published a history of Wallace Hall Academy and was in the midst of writing a history of the Royal Highland show.

STFA members will remember Stewart as a principled and honest man who combined a social conscience with a strong sense of justice. He loved company and was great company himself, he was a natural communicator with a powerful and authoritative voice which will be much missed in STFA meetings. Stewart lived life to the full, achieving much during his life and he leaves the world a better place. Our thoughts and sympathies are with his wife Fran, her three daughters and seven grandchildren.

CODE OF PRACTICE INTRODUCED WHILE RENT REVIEW REFORMS STALL

CODE OF PRACTICE INTRODUCED WHILE RENT REVIEW REFORMS STALL

News Release

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

24th November 2020

Code of Practice introduced while rent review reforms stall

 

The Scottish Government has decided not to proceed with implementing changes to the rent test as proposed in the 2016 Land Reform Act and is instead taking a fresh look at how to modernise the rent review system to provide the fairest and best solution for tenant farmers.  In the meantime, rents will continue to be reviewed under the existing system.  As an interim measure the Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, is introducing a comprehensive Code of Practice on Conducting Rent Reviews to ensure that rents are reviewed transparently and correctly and proper account is taken of comparable evidence.

A revitalised rent review system was one of the major reforms recommended by the Agricultural Holdings Review Group by former Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead and incorporated in the Land Reform Act.  The intention had been to replace the market driven formula for determining rents with one based on the productive capacity of the farm.  Since then, the difficulties associated with designing a brand new rent test have become obvious and stakeholders have struggled to find agreement on how the proposed legislation should be applied in practice.

Commenting on the situation, STFA Chairman said; “We are very disappointed that, for a variety of reasons, the Scottish Government has decided not to proceed with implementing changes to the rent test. We are now faced with an extended discussion with other stakeholders and the government on the best way forward and it is likely that, even with a fair wind, it will be at least another year or two before we could have another rent regime in place.

“We remain adamant that continuing with the status quo cannot be an option and steps must be taken to create a rent test which does not place such a strong emphasis on an increasingly scarce open market for comparable evidence.  We welcome Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing’s commitment to continuing with the quest to re-design a new rent test and Bob McIntosh’s new code of practice which not only details the rent review process which should be followed, but also emphasises some key principles in rent negotiations which are so often conveniently forgotten, especially by landlords’ agents.

“Although it is disappointing that a new rent system has not emerged from the months and years spent on it, it has not been a waste of time and resources.  There is now a much greater understanding about how rent reviews should be done and the importance of honesty and transparency in the review process and especially the cardinal principle that tenants should not be rented on their own improvements.  The amnesty has been a huge help in this regard.”

Although many problems with rent reviews are associated with an out of date rent test, much of the blame must also lie with the ways in which rent reviews have been carried out over the years.  The TFC’s Code describes the legal basis for rent reviews and provides a practical, step-by-step approach to conducting a rent review. The Code also signposts alternative ways to resolving disputes and how to deal with breeches of the Code.  STFA recommend it as a must read for both landlords and tenants and particularly land agents.”

The TFC’s Code of Practice on Conducting Rent Reviews is available here.  Hard copies have already been distributed to STFA members.

STFA launches last ditch amnesty plea

STFA launches last ditch amnesty plea

News Release

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

15th October 2020

STFA launches last ditch amnesty plea

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh’s timely warning today of the fast approaching deadline of the amnesty on tenant’s improvements. In response to Covid 19 restrictions and STFA’s request in March, the Scottish Government agreed to extend the amnesty period by six months to 12th December 2020.

Time is running out, but STFA believes that with goodwill on both sides there is still time for tenants to finalise amnesty agreements with their landlords in the remaining two months using the informal process. However, where it may not be possible to conclude the amnesty before 12th December tenants must serve a formal notice in order to preserve their position.

Commenting on the situation, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said; “Although the majority of tenants have already completed the amnesty process, we are aware that, as predicted, there are some who have left it to the last minute. Despite this, we would urge landlords and tenants to work together to agree and record these improvements in the short time available.

“As has been said many times before, the amnesty is a unique opportunity for tenants to rectify past mistakes and omissions in their paperwork which otherwise, could prevent them from receiving waygo compensation for improvements made over the course of the tenancy. 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, in any case, the amnesty will be essential for future rent reviews to ensure tenants are not charged rent on their own improvements.

“STFA is also aware that there are a minority of landlords or their agents who continue to be reluctant to co-operate or even engage in the amnesty process. This type of behaviour has been condemned by industry stakeholders and tenants in this position should inform the Tenant Farming Commissioner without delay. The next step will have to be serving a formal amnesty notice before the deadline on 12th December.

“It is important to remember that an amnesty notice must include not only a full and accurate record of improvements but also details of them and the manner in which they were carried out as well as reasons as to why it is fair and equitable for them to be considered for compensation to be payable at waygo. The more accurate the notice is, the more difficult it will be for a landlord to sustain an objection. Assistance is available from representative bodies such as STFA, and the Tenant Farming Commissioner but, at this stage professional help is strongly advised.

“This really is the last chance to take advantage of the amnesty and secure the future for succeeding generations of tenant farmers. Don’t ignore it!”

STFA calls for farm rent reductions amid Covid19 crisis and  looming economic recession

STFA calls for farm rent reductions amid Covid19 crisis and looming economic recession

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

20th May 2020

STFA calls for farm rent reductions amid Covid19 crisis and  looming economic recession

 

As the May term date approaches, the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is calling on landlords to agree to reduce farm rents, or at the very least a rent standstill, to allow tenant farmers to recover from the havoc caused by the Covid19 pandemic and to prepare to cope with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit compounded by the spectre of an imminent recession.

In a letter to The Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh and recently appointed Chair of Scottish Land and Estates, Mark Tennant, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said that a number of tenants had been in touch expressing surprise and disappointment that not only are some landlords intent on pursuing rent increases in the current climate but there are others who are serving notices to increase rents for next May, despite their tenants having had rent reviews in the last 2 to 5 years. STFA is also aware that there have been a number of rent notices served last year for reviews in November this year.

Christopher Nicholson continued; “We think it is unreasonable and unfair to seek rent increases at this time from tenants who are up to date with rent reviews given the uncertain effects and associated stress caused by Covid-19 and Brexit on agriculture.  Indeed, all sectors are showing poorer profitability compared with recent years except for the pigs, fruit and veg sectors which are largely absent from the tenanted sector, and the general outlook is uncertain with widespread predictions for the worst depression for 300 years. As well as acting insensitively, seeking rent increases and serving rent notices at the moment can be seen as an opportunistic attempt to increase rents using the current open market rent test before a fairer productive capacity test can be introduced which would allow rents to vary up or down in line with farm profitability.”

Many tenant farming businesses have become reliant on diversified enterprises, such as tourism, farmers markets and farm shops and are now seeing their diversification income disappear. Both UK and Scottish governments recognise that businesses are under pressure – and have made emergency support available. Unfortunately, many of these diversified businesses are not eligible for aid schemes and will now be suffering from much reduced incomes.

In recent months, STFA has become increasingly frustrated at the continuing delay by the Scottish Government in implementing the new rent test, based on the productive capacity of the farm which would allow rents to be adjusted in light of economic conditions. Instead, rents continue to be reviewed under the current open market test making rent reductions very difficult to achieve and tenants fear that they may be pressurised into either accepting an unsustainable rent or face a costly dispute with the landlord which will not only sour relationships but may also end up in the Land Court.  Concerns over mental health in agriculture have risen up the agenda and worries over rental disputes on top of falling incomes will inevitably increase the levels of stress tenants will be feeling as the economic and social repercussions of Covid-19 and exiting the EU begin to be felt.

STFA has expressed tenant farmers’ concerns to Bob McIntosh and has urged Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing to make progress with the new rent test and is now asked Scottish Land and Estates to encourage landlords to withdraw existing rent notices, consider rent reductions and call a moratorium on rent increases until we see some economic stability and certainty in the sector. After all, in the spirit of good relationships, landlords should be prepared to take a share in any downturn in economic fortunes.

 

STFA Welcomes Extension to Tenants’ Amnesty

STFA Welcomes Extension to Tenants’ Amnesty

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

13th May 2020

STFA Welcomes Extension to Tenants’ Amnesty

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed today’s endorsement by the Scottish Parliament of Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing’s decision to extend the tenants’ amnesty on improvements for a further six months until the 12th December 2020. The amnesty extension is being implemented through secondary legislation and will add a further six months to the current deadline.

Commenting on the news, STFA Chairman, Christopher Nicholson said; “This will be very good news for tenants who have been increasingly concerned that they would not be able to complete their amnesties before the June deadline due to difficulties they have been experiencing from the current Covid19 crisis. We commend the Cabinet Secretary for listening to STFA’s concerns and his officials for their prompt response to STFA’s request for an amnesty extension and finding parliamentary time to implement the necessary legislation.

“This does not mean, however, that tenants and their advisers should put their amnesties on the backburner, but they should continue to press ahead and get amnesties concluded in good time before the new deadline of 12th December. STFA has been advising tenants to proceed as though the amnesty would be expiring on June 12th so we hope that most tenants intending to submit an amnesty will already be close to finalising it, and we would now urge them not to take their feet off the gas. The next few weeks could be an ideal time to get the amnesty done, once IACS applications are completed and before the busy summer season begins, many may even have time on their hands with the cancellation of summer shows and other activities.

“The amnesty will also provide a breathing space for those whose amnesties are at an early stage, but time is short and experience has shown that at least six months is needed to complete an amnesty, even in good times. Most land agents are operating from home and STFA believes most of the paperwork could be attended to despite the lockdown period. We would encourage landlords’ and tenants’ agents to prioritise completion of amnesties and advise any tenant experiencing difficulties in contacting or receiving a response from their landlord’s agent to inform Bob McIntosh, the TFC, and/or STFA immediately.”

For further information, please contact:

Christopher Nicholson:   01988 500423

Angus McCall:                   07767 756840

 

 

STFA welcomes Commissioner’s intervention in amnesty debate.

STFA welcomes Commissioner’s intervention in amnesty debate.

STFA welcomes Commissioner’s intervention in amnesty debate.

STFA has welcomed Tenant Farming Commissioner’s intervention in the amnesty debate.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh has urged both landlords and tenants to work together to make the most of the waygo amnesty.  In commenting that time is running out for those who wish to make use of the amnesty Bob McIntosh said:

“The onus to complete the amnesty process is on both the tenant farmer and the landlord, and I would encourage all parties to ensure the process is completed before the deadline.

“It can take time to pull together all the evidence a tenant farmer may need to submit through an amnesty notice and to agree the list with the landowner.

“I have a Code of Practice which outlines the behaviour expected by all parties. It emphasises the importance of having a site meeting to help move the process along.

“Once tenant and landlord have assembled and shared information for the origin and eligibility of claimed improvements, a site meeting is the best way to see and discuss any disputed items and to reach agreement without the need for endless back and forward correspondence.

“Everyone needs to work together to make the most of the valuable opportunity this amnesty provides.”

The Code of Practice, guidance and templates produced by the Tenant Farming Commissioner, together with Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, CAAV and SAAVA explains how the amnesty works and how landlords and tenants can work together to agree a list of tenants improvements which may be eligible for compensation at waygo. More information can be found at landcommission.gov.scot/tenant-farming.

STFA warns tenants against factors running down amnesty clock

STFA warns tenants against factors running down amnesty clock

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

25th February 2020

STFA warns tenants against factors running down amnesty clock

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is warning tenant farmers to be on their guard against landlords or their agents if they suspect them of using delaying tactics in an attempt to “run down the clock” before the amnesty period finishes on June 12th. With only 3 months to go before the tenants’ amnesty on improvements expires, STFA has been contacted by tenants becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress being made in finalising their amnesties by landlords or factors who appear to be deliberately awkward or officious in an attempt to slow down amnesty negotiations.

The amnesty is an important provision introduced in the Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2016 which allows for certain past improvements carried out by the tenant to become eligible for end of tenancy compensation despite missing notices or consents. The 3 year amnesty 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, 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 situation STFA Director Angus McCall said; “Unfortunately the uptake of the amnesty continues to be slow and there will be a large number of tenants who will miss out on this once in a lifetime opportunity, despite the efforts of STFA. It is, therefore deeply disappointing that we are being approached by so many who, having put a great deal of time and effort into completing their amnesties over the last couple of years, are now finding it difficult to bring negotiations to a conclusion and complete the amnesty.

“Following discussions with tenants and land agents, we are convinced that amnesty discussions are being deliberately hampered in an attempt to run down the clock and in doing so, there may be breaches of the Code of Practice which should be referred to the Tenant Farming Commissioner without delay.

“The Code of Practice, reinforced by supplementary guidance, clearly sets down guidelines on how both parties should behave in amnesty discussions and defines breaches of the code which should be referred to the Commissioner. Common breaches include a lack of co-operation and sharing of information between parties, the unwillingness of land agents to visit the farm and discuss improvements on site and a lack of communication prolonging discussions much longer than the recommended 9 months. Stalling tactics seem to have increased over the last couple of months as the deadline approaches with landlords’ agents “gilding the lily” by demanding detailed information, well beyond what is necessary to establish the existence and eligibility of improvements and who paid for them.

“The Amnesty was the brainchild of Scottish Lands and Estates and continues to have their full backing, and it was anticipated that the spirit of the amnesty would be respected by landlords’ agents, sadly this has not always been the case. Time is now of the essence and if tenants believe they are being obstructed by the actions of landlords or agents, they should act immediately and not be nervous about referring matter to Bob McIntosh the Tenant Farming Commissioner. Experience has shown that the Commissioner’s intervention has frequently resolved an impasse without disturbing relationships between the parties.

“Tenants should also remember that all is not lost if they have not managed to finalise their amnesty agreements by 12th June. They still have the option to serve a formal amnesty notice on their landlord. However, in order to do so, they will have to have already compiled a list of eligible improvements along with supporting evidence. This will tie them and their landlords into an inflexible formal process with statutory timelines, less room for manoeuvre and if they fail to reach an agreement, the Scottish Land Court will be the ultimate arbiter.