Scottish Lands and Estates have today signalled a revision of their position on rent reviews.   They are now proposing cross industry discussions which would consider the introduction of productive capacity of a farm as a factor in determining rents.

In welcoming Scottish Lands and Estates’ u-turn on rent reviews following over a decade of stonewalling STFA has insisted that agreement to abandon the use of  open market comparables in 1991 rent reviews must be a prerequisite of any discussions on rent review changes.

 STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson commenting on the news said;  “The industry has been discussing rent reviews in the TFF for over a decade now and has made little progress.  Rents are probably the most contentious issue in landlord tenant relationships, a fact that landlords are only now prepared to acknowledge with the advent of the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group and against a backdrop of land and tenancy reform.

 “SL&E’s olive branch on rent reviews has obviously been offered through clenched teeth but STFA firmly believes that the current rent review system is deeply damaging and requires a thorough overhaul.  We are prepared to discuss solutions with other stakeholders as part of the tenancy review but the question of open market comparables is very much a red line issue.

 “The need for change is indisputable, the tenanted sector is awaiting the Land Court’s decision over the latest rent dispute between Roxburghe Estate and one of its tenants.  This rent dispute will have taken nearly six years to resolve involving over fifteen days in court at astronomical cost.  Whatever the outcome of this case, there can be no clearer demonstration of the need for change.

 “There is a desperate need for rent reviews to become much more straightforward and less confrontational and the industry should look further afield than the constraints of the 1991 Act for a fairer and more suitable way of agreeing rents.  One simple solution, for example, would be to impose a cap on rental increases or decreases linked to an annual index such as inflation.

“The Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group have spent the last few weeks taking evidence from tenants and landlords the length and breadth of the country and we look forward to hearing their views on rent reviews in the interim report next week.”