News Release

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

13th December 2020





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.”