Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

 5th May 2018




The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has cautioned the Scottish Agricultural Arbiters and Valuers Association against being negative in their attitude towards the proposed changes to rent review procedures. The warning followed a recent statement from newly appointed SAAVA President, Ian Austin, criticising the new rent system as being “more procedural and complex” than at present and advocating a re-examination of the proposed approach through an open debate, despite the industry having spent the last 4 years debating the subject.

Reacting to SAAVA’s comments, STFA Christopher Nicholson Chairman said; “It is widely accepted that the current open market rent system is no longer fit for purpose and the time is ripe to move towards a new method of rent setting based on what the holding can produce using the land and fixtures supplied by the landlord, taking proper account of improvements made by the tenant. These principles for the new rent test are patently fair and were a recommendation from the Cabinet Secretary’s Review of Agricultural Tenancy Legislation in 2014.

Tenant farmers have been looking for change for nearly 20 years and cannot continue operating under the yoke of the fear of ever increasing rents from a broken open market rent test with a punitive Land Court battle in the background unless they accede to demands. History tells its own story with only 3 rent cases heard in the Land Court since 2003 at an average cost well into the hundreds of thousands of pounds as tenants prefer to settle rather than fight.

“Reforming the rent review process is obviously a complex task which has occupied a great deal of time, energy and expense. It is now incumbent on those involved to use their knowledge and expertise to make the new rent test work rather than trying to stop the clock and start again, shelving the operation is not an option. STFA is confident that if the will is there, a suitable methodology can be found to deliver a “fair rent”. After all, a very similar rent review process has been operating successfully South of the Border for more than 30 years.

“It has been more than two years since the Land Reform Act became law and we are still waiting for some major elements to be implemented, and we are worried that further talk of delays to implementing the rent test will only hold back the rest of the Act. STFA has already written to Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing expressing concerns at the length of time it has taken to activate some crucial sections which look like lingering on well into 2019, if not beyond.”