STFA welcomes Tenant Farming Commissioner’s Review on the Conduct of Agents of Agricultural Landlords and Tenants

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

10th May 2018


STFA welcomes Tenant Farming Commissioner’s Review on the Conduct of Agents of Agricultural Landlords and Tenants


The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has welcomed the recently published Review by the Tenant Farming Commissioner on the Conduct of Agents of Landlords and Tenants. The Review was a statutory requirement of the 2016 Land Reform Act and makes some robust recommendations to improve working relationships between landlords, tenants and agents.

Commenting on the review, STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson said: ‘This review contains no surprises and paints a similar picture to an earlier survey published by the Scottish Government in 2014. We have always recognised that the majority operate in a fair and reasonable manner and that the dissatisfaction stems from the practices of only a handful of agents. However, with the concentrated pattern of land management in Scotland, a few mavericks can have a disproportionate effect on the tenanted sector as a whole and damage the reputation of their profession.

‘The review shows that relationships between landlords and tenants are generally good, with landlords and tenants satisfied with the agents they employ, but unsurprisingly less satisfied with the agents employed by the other party. The reasons for dissatisfaction were as expected, including poor communication, lack of communication, aggressive and insensitive behaviour, a lack of transparency and honesty, and little regard for the importance of preserving good long-term relationships.

‘The review recognises the damage caused by poor behavioural attitudes of some agents, lack of good interpersonal skills and lack of emotional intelligence; all problems that STFA are familiar with from feedback received from tenants. Relationships were found to be better where there were regular face to face meetings between landlords and tenants, and one disturbing statistic from the review is that 46% of tenants meet their landlord once a year or less, and 16% never meet their landlord.

‘Rent negotiations continue to be a cause of poor relationships with some recently conducted rent negotiations demonstrating the lack of regard certain agents have for the core principles contained in the industry agreed guidance on rent reviews. For too long rent reviews have been conducted as a dark art, and the review’s recommendation that guidance on rent reviews is adhered to, with particular insistence on openness, transparency and honesty will be a welcome change.

‘Also welcome is the recommendation that the professional bodies should work with the Tenant Farming Commissioner to produce a guide to professional standards and a complaints system with particular reference to the tenanted sector.

‘The review does not however address the points made by the Law Society, that an agent is not required to act in a fair and reasonable manner or follow the codes of practice providing he stays within the law.

‘Despite the difficulties raised by the Law Society, and the challenges ahead to provide a workable complaints system, the review provides a positive report but with the message that there is room for improvement. It is now up to the Cabinet Secretary to take forward the review’s recommendations.