Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

28th August 2018



The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is using this week’s tenants’ amnesty awareness campaign to urge tenant farmers to take advantage of the one-off opportunity for tenants to register improvements they have made on their farms, so they will be eligible for compensation should the tenancy come to an end. The 3-year amnesty has now less than 2 years to run and, with only a fraction of Scotland’s the 5000 or so tenants having made a start and even smaller numbers having completed the process, time is running short.

The amnesty applies to all types of tenancy where improvements have been carried out without the necessary notices and consents which would qualify them for waygo compensation. It will not, however, apply where the landlord objected to the original improvement notice or if the improvement has been carried out in a manner significantly different from the original notice.

The improvement must be judged “fair and equitable for compensation to be payable and the landlord can object if he carried out the improvement in whole or in part or allowed a benefit to the tenant in consideration of his carrying out the improvement.

STFA Chairman Christopher Nicholson commented; “STFA views this as one of the most important reforms to come out of the 2016 Act. It will not only ensure that tenants can receive fair compensation for their improvements, but it will also establish a record of improvements that must be ‘black patched’ or disregarded at rent reviews. Many tenants on secure tenancies may consider that their tenancies will never come to an end and the amnesty not worth bothering about. However, although that may be the case, rents are soon to be based on the productive capacity of the holding and identifying tenant’s improvements so they can be disregarded will be crucial. After all no one wants to be rented on their own improvements.

“It is up to the tenant to initiate the process and this may involve a fair bit of work in looking out evidence, such as invoices and past correspondence, to show the tenant or his predecessors carried out the improvements. The more evidence that can be put together, the easier it will be to prove that it is fair and equitable that compensation should be paid.

“We would advise tenants to cast the net far and wide when making their list of improvements, as the definition of an improvement is broad, being ‘any building or structure affixed to land and any works on, in, over or under land’. As well as buildings, housing, fencing and other obvious items; improvements to land, such as ditches, drainage, removal of stones and other obstacles to cultivation; field boundaries; access improvements; and provision of services should also be included. It is better to include too much rather than too little, as there will be no second chances if any improvements are missed.’

“To cut back on cost, most tenants should try and do the legwork themselves in compiling a list of improvements and looking for evidence, after all they know their own farms best. On the other hand, professional assistance will probably be needed for the more technical tasks, evaluating improvements to judge which will meet the fair and equitable test, and, presenting the amnesty notice to the landlord and negotiating improvements to be registered. The final agreement is a legal document and should also be professionally checked.

“Finally, there are plenty sources of advice available and TFC’s Code of Practice should be read and followed. It should also be noted that, although it is the tenant’s responsibility to initiate the amnesty discussion, thereafter landlords and tenants should jointly prepare an agreed list of improvements and both parties should assemble and be prepared to share relevant documents and other evidence past agreements and transactions relating to improvements. In other words, there is an expectation that this should be a co-operative and consensual process.

“The amnesty has the backing of the whole industry and no tenant should feel nervous about approaching his landlord on the matter, after all, it was originally the brainchild of Scottish Land and Estates and most landlords will be prepared for it.”


For further information contact:

Christopher Nicholson           01988 500429

Angus McCall                          07767 756840