Tenants urged to act as amnesty deadline approaches

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

12th June 2019

Tenants urged to act as amnesty deadline approaches

The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is warning all tenant farmers that the countdown to the amnesty deadline has begun in earnest and warns that with only one year to go, tenants stand to lose a lifetime opportunity to safeguard the future of their tenancies unless they act immediately.

The amnesty is one of the provisions of the Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2016 and allows for certain past improvements carried out by the tenant to become eligible for waygo compensation despite missing notices or consents. The amnesty only lasts for a 3 year period during which a tenant may notify his landlord of the works carried out on the farm which he wishes to be registered as improvements. The amnesty expires on 13th June 2020.

STFA has stressed the importance of the amnesty as not only being essential for agreeing what will be eligible for compensation at waygo, but also essential for the new rent test and for clarifying who owns what for the benefit of future generations.

Commenting on the urgency of the situation, STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said; “The amnesty is an incredible opportunity for tenants to rectify past mistakes and omissions in their paperwork which, in the normal course of events, would disallow them from receiving waygo compensation for many of the improvements made over the course of the tenancy. For many people this could be the difference between coming out of the tenancy with a comfortable nest egg or leaving with very little bar the value of your stock. Even if you have no intention of giving up the tenancy it makes sense to get everything in order and the amnesty will be essential for future rent reviews to ensure tenants are not charged rent on their own improvements. Tenants should remember that the amnesty has the blessing of the landlords, after all, it was their idea!

“So, it is worrying to hear that there are so many tenants who have not even begun to think about taking part in the amnesty. Anecdotally it would appear that only a couple of hundred out of 4,000 – 5,000 tenants will have even made a start and, unless they get going in the next few weeks, they will literally run out of time. We estimate that on average it will take at least six months to negotiate and agree the amnesty even with a fair wind and a cooperative landlord. If agreement cannot be reached before the deadline, the tenant will have to consider serving a formal notice, which triggers the official process, which is bound by strict timelines and still requires all the evidence and justification up front which means there is no time to waste.

“We would advise any tenant unsure how to proceed to visit STFA Stand 465 on Avenue 4 at the Highland Show where there will be professional advice on hand and the Tenant farming Commissioner will be present on Thursday and Friday afternoon or contact the Land Commission on Stand 461. STFA and the Tenant Farming Commissioner are at the show to help, so come and see us. Remember that you must act now as time is short and there is NO chance of an extension to the amnesty. Use it or you will lose it!”