Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

News Release

17th August 2017


The Scottish Tenant Farmers Association has hailed the news that Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has begun work on the review of agents as a major milestone towards the improvement of relationships between landlords and tenants. The review will look at the views and experiences of tenant farmers and landlords with regard to the conduct of professionals engaged by either party to act on their behalf in matters relating to agricultural holdings.

Welcoming the announcement STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said: “Over the last few decades land agents have had an increasing influence on the tenanted sector and the relationships between tenants and their landlords. Nowadays landlords invariably engage outside firms of land agents to factor their tenanted farms. The days of the traditional management style of the residential estate factor living on the estate and knowing the tenants are long gone to be replaced by commercially driven firms of land agents with little personal knowledge of the estate and often the workings of the tenanted system. This lack of understanding and sometimes tactless behaviour usually comes to the fore during rent reviews leading to conflict and acrimony

“The spectre of a review of the conduct of professional agents has already seen an improvement in their behaviour and the creation of a Tenant Farming Commissioner has provided tenant farmers with an independent ombudsman to whom they can have the confidence to refer complaints and seek advice. This review should pave the way for the creation of recognised codes of conduct to complement the codes of practice already being established.

“Landlords’ increasing reliance on the advice of professional agents as the rural economy and the tenanted sector becomes increasingly complex puts them in a pivotal position to influence land management in Scotland. In light of the undoubtable impact that estate management has on the wider community and rural economy STFA believes the TFC’s review should also examine the advice being given by professional agents on the management of that land.

“A handful of land agent firms factor Scotland’s let land and exert disproportionate control over the way in which it is managed. Farms to let are at a premium despite evidence of land becoming vacated, such as on the island of Bute, where there will be a number of empty farms in the next year or two.  On Bute and on many other estates there must be a compelling public interest argument to relet these farms and encourage new blood in to agriculture.  A more positive attitude on behalf of land agents towards the tenanted sector could bring many of these farms back onto the letting market.”