News Release

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association

18th November 2015




STFA is concerned to hear from members that there are a high number of rent reviews taking place this November, with more rent notices served for May 2016 reviews.  With all main farm commodity prices at low levels for a second year in a row and CAP support payments expected to be both reduced and delayed, the industry bodies must question the reasoning of landlords currently seeking rent increases.

Commenting the situation STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said:  “Landlords know that this may be their last chance to increase rents prior to the Land Reform Bill introducing a new rent test based on the productive capacity of the holding, replacing the present open market test.  All industry stakeholders including Scottish Land and Estates recognise the need for a more appropriate rent test closer to the model used south of the border for the last 30 years to ensure the setting of viable rents.  The last time commodity prices were this low for two consecutive years was back in 2005/06, but the situation is arguably worse today given the poor prospects for CAP support payments.  Landlords continuing to seek rent increases in the current climate are clearly putting opportunism before responsibility, and risk driving a wedge between tenants and landlords at a time when the tenanted sector is looking for common ground and actively promoting better relationships.

“I would like to ask Scottish Land and Estates and NFUS to encourage their members who are still driving for rent increases to consider the potential damage that they risk causing.  A number of professional agents and lawyers have expressed the view that unless a holding has not had a rent review for a very significant length of time, there is little justification to increase rents in the current economic conditions.  It is therefore ironic that tenants who have had regular rent reviews are now being threatened with referral to the Land Court unless they agree to further rent increases.

“STFA have heard that some rent cases have already been referred to the Land Court and we fear that the total number of referrals this November will be higher than previous years with tenants understandably resisting ever increasing rents.  We will monitor progress over the next fortnight, but at a time when landlords are being encouraged by both the wider industry and Scottish Government to act in a fair and responsible manner, it is clearly disappointing to hear from so many tenants who are being pushed for rent increases under a rent test that all stakeholders agree is no longer fit for purpose.  In light of the current parlous state of agriculture and the dire straits many tenants find themselves in we would strongly urge landlords to reconsider demands for rent increases and withdraw rent notices until agricultural fortunes improve.”