News Release


Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

 31st March 2015


 The Scottish Government’s survey of tenants of Small landholdings heralds the potential start of long overdue reform for a forgotten class of tenant farmer, ignored by successive legislative reforms to the tenanted sector.  As a consequence of STFA’s lobbying, Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead pledged to look into the situation of Small Landholders and STFA is pleased that he is now honouring that pledge.

 The Government has, this week, initiated a survey of tenants of small landholdings in order to update its register of statutory Small Landholdings and as part of its commitment to modernise tenancy legislation. The survey is being sent to all those who have indicated on their IACS that they may be small landholders and STFA urges all who receive the survey to respond, whether or not they think they may be statutory Small Landholders under the 1911 Act.

Government census figures estimate there may be as many as 118 Small Landholdings in Scotland, covering 5,000ha from Stranraer to Strathspey.  Many of these holdings may not be statutory Small Landholdings and the government survey seeks to distinguish the differences between the types of small tenant.

 These tenants find themselves in a unique and unenviable situation – although they share similar rights of security with crofters and 1991 tenants, they have few of the benefits.  They have had to provide the entire infrastructure of their farms; housing, buildings fencing and drainage but they have neither the rights of purchase of the crofter nor even the pre-emptive rights of the agricultural tenant.  Moreover, they have limited assignation rights and little in the way of end of tenancy compensation.  Small Landholders are still forced to operate under century old legislation which is in dire need of modernisation.

 Small Landholders have a similar background to crofters and the Crofting Reform Act 2010 tried to give small landholders in the designated crofting areas the right to convert to crofts. However, the legislation has proved to be too cumbersome and complex to operate and, as yet no small landholdings have been converted to crofts.  The Small Landholding tenants are now looking for a simpler and more practicable route to give them the same rights as other tenant farmers and crofters.  The Land Reform Review Group’s simple solution of granting these tenants a statutory right to buy similar to that enjoyed by crofters has yet to be taken up by government.

 Any small landholder who has any queries or anyone who has not received the survey form should contact Fiona Buchanan (Leslie) by email or telephone 0131 244 9138 /07855 180858.