Scottish Tenant Farmers

News Release

23rd September 2015


Scottish tenant farmers will be looking enviously across the Border where the signs are that farm rents are, at last, beginning to fall. According to the Tenant Farmers Association in England, tenants this year are being able to agree rent reductions with landlords, typically around 10% on rents which were agreed 3 years ago. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Scotland where rents continue to rise despite a continuing downturn in commodity prices and one of the most challenging summers in recent years.

Responding to the news from England, STFA Director, Angus McCall said: “Whilst we are pleased for fellow tenants in England that rents are falling, it is vexing that Scottish rents are unable to react to economic and climatic pressures to the same extent. The feedback we are getting from members that, although rent demands are, in the main pegged to the inflationary index brokered by the industry, landlords are still expecting increases, even from rents agreed 3 years ago. There are, of course, the usual maverick land agents who are determined to push the boundaries with totally unreasonable demands, in one case a rent rise of more than 80% is being demanded on a rent agreed 3 years ago.

“The difference in rental behaviour between neighbouring countries with similar tenancy arrangements is yet more conclusive proof that, not only do we need a rental system that takes proper account of the profitability of farming, but also a more accessible way of resolving disputes. Arbitration seems to work well south of the border and dozens of rents are regularly settled, quickly and cost effectively, whereas, up here, it would be a brave person who would take a rent dispute to the Land Court and risk a court case which could take several years and hundreds of thousands of pounds to resolve accompanied by all the attendant stress and anxiety.

“The industry is working on a new rent formula based on the productive capacity of the holding which should allow rents to fluctuate in tune with economic and other circumstances, but it must also provide for a more user friendly route to settling disputes based on arbitration or expert determination. Who knows, we may see tenants serving rent review notices in a couple of years to get rents in line with what the farming business can afford!”