News Release

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

 25th February 2015

 STFA response to RICS media briefing

STFA has responded to the recent RICS media briefing lambasting land and tenancy reform.  Amongst other things RICS has said that the tenancy recommendations “will increase disputes and confrontations between landlords and tenants. It may also result in fewer farms made available to let in the future”.

 STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson commented:  “In attempting to defend the status quo this ill-judged broadside from RICS Scotland is unhelpful and will cut no ice with Scottish Government who are committed to land and tenancy reform.  Such damning criticism of the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group’s Final Report is irresponsible and out of kilter with the wider industry recognition of the need for change.  Furthermore, it is of great worry for the tenanted sector to see RICS Scotland take this defensive position given that their membership primarily represent landlord interests.

 “RICS Scotland’s efforts to whitewash bad practice is at odds with evidence collected by the Review Group.  Despite the recent Land Agent’s Declaration where senior agents pledged to recognise industry led initiatives and codes of conduct, STFA continue to hear of cases where agents acting for landlords are ignoring best practice guidelines, and we would be prepared to share this evidence with an independent Tenant Farming Commissioner.

 “Tenants are unlikely to make official complaints against the actions of their landlord’s agents for fear of souring future relationships, and it is especially difficult for an individual tenant to make a complaint through RICS Scotland’s regulatory framework.

 “It is entirely unrealistic of RICS to believe that reliance on a complaints procedure will drive out bad practice amongst their membership, and only the naïve would think that a lack of official complaints indicates that land agents are complying with best practice.  Key stakeholders in the tenanted need to develop a new approach to ensure that best practice is adopted by land agents which does not rely on complaints being raised by tenants or landlords.

 “This latest stance of RICS will come as no surprise to tenants, and reinforces the need for an interim Tenant Farming Commissioner to be put in place to prevent any attempts by landlords and their agents taking evasive action in advance of changes to tenancy legislation.