'The role of Independent Adviser on Tenant Farming is a short-term one that has been created until legislation can be brought forward by the Scottish Government to establish a Tenant Farming Commissioner with statutory powers under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 which was one of the main recommendations contained within the Agricultural Holdings Legislation Review Group's Final Report published in January 2015.
Please see a link to the agent rent review survey being undertaken by RICS in collaboation with Andrew Thin - www.rics.org/ruralagentsurvey. More information on this initiative can be found here.
The Discussion Paper on Conduct and Standards for Professionals Acting for Agricultural Landlords and Tenants can be accessed via this link and is stored at the bottom of this page together with other industry guidance on tenant farming.
Industry Bodies Launch Guidance on Exercise of Shooting Rights on Tenanted Farms - August 2016
Industry Bodies Launch Guidance on Determining Compensation at Way-Go - 21 June 2016
The Role of Agents - Conduct and Standards for Professional Intermediaries
Rent Reviews - Call to landlords and tenants to help provide feedback on rent review practices
Welcome to the ninth progress bulletin to be issued by the Independent Adviser on Tenant Farming. The role has been created on a part-time and time limited basis, primarily in order to advise Scottish Ministers and to work with the NFUS, SL&E and STFA on developing new industry led guidance for landlords and tenants.
In the period since the last bulletin in October two further interim codes of practice have been agreed and issued by the industry bodies with support from the Independent Adviser. The first addresses late payment of rent and was issued on 1st November. The second was issued on 15th November and deals with the circumstances where a company is sold that owns tenanted land subject to a pre-emptive right to buy. Both subjects are potentially challenging and contentious, and it is to the credit of all three industry bodies that interim guidance has been agreed in this way.
No owner of let property can be expected to operate without an effective remedy to deal with the late payment of rent, and the interim code underlines the importance of effective budgeting by tenants to ensure that the rent can be paid on or before the due date. The responsibility that rests on the landlord for timely invoicing is also emphasised, acknowledging that good debtor management is a key competency that landlords must have in place. But situations can occur where payment of rent is unavoidably late despite timely invoicing, and the interim code sets out a process for dealing with such circumstances if they arise.
Under current legislation the tenant of a secure 1991 Act tenancy may register an interest in acquiring his/her farm. The tenant then has a statutory pre-emptive right to buy (PRTB) if the owner decides to sell the property. If, however, the land is held within a limited company and it is the company that is for sale, these provisions are not triggered. The interim code emphasises that ownership through a limited company should not be used as a device to circumvent statutory PRTB, but it accepts that ownership through a limited company may be appropriate for some other reason. It goes on to set out a process that should be followed to avoid the potential for damage to landlord/tenant relations that could arise were such a company to be sold.
The Scottish Government interviewed candidates for the posts of Land Commissioner and Tenant Farming Commissioner in October, and subsequently the Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP has proposed to the Scottish Parliament the names of individuals who she wishes to appoint. MSPs are currently considering the matter, and it is expected that decisions will be made early in December. Subject to the Scottish Parliament confirming the proposal, it is anticipated that the new Tenant Farming Commissioner will be Bob Macintosh, previously Head of the Forestry Commission and in a past life both farmer and tenant farmer.
The period through to March 2017 will involve a progressive handover from the Independent Adviser to the new Tenant Farming Commissioner, but work on interim guidance and responses to issues involving individual landlords, tenants and/or agents will continue throughout that period.
Further information about the work of the Independent Adviser can be found at www.gov.scot/Topics/farmingrural/Agriculture/agricultural-holdings/Tenant-Farming-Adviser. If you would like to offer him thoughts and suggestions, or if you think that he can be of help to you with a specific issue, in the first instance please contact Claudine Duff at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0131 244 2293.
Issue 09: December 2016
Issue 08: October 2016
Issue 07: August 2016
Issue 06: June 2016
Issue 05: February 2016
Issue 04: December 2015
Issue 03: October 2015
Issue 02: August 2015
Issue 01: June 2015
Last updated: 1 December 2016