Scotland’s first tenant farming commissioner is on a mission to improve relations between landlords and tenants.
Bob McIntosh forms part of a team of six commissioners at the newly established Scottish Land Commission, which is based in Inverness.
He will oversee tenant farming relations, while the other five commissioners will be tasked with reviewing law and policy and making recommendations to government minister on any matter relating to Scotland’s land.
Mr McIntosh, who is currently a board member of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said his role had been created as a result of concern over the often “adversarial and dysfunctional” relationships that exist between a number of tenant farmers and their landlords.
“My role is to be neutral between landlords and tenants and try to do what I can to try and improve the working relationships between the two parties,” said Mr McIntosh.
He said a key part of his job would be developing statutory codes of practice from the sector, building on previous work done by Scottish Land Commission chairman Andrew Thin in developing joint industry guidance on issues such as rent reviews, tenants’ improvements and compensation at waygo.
Mr McIntosh said he will have the power to investigate instances where a landlord or tenant feels the other has breached the code once they have made a formal complaint.
By adhering to the codes of practice, which are yet to be developed, Mr McIntosh said he hoped people would reach agreement and avoid disputes being heard by the Scottish Land Court.
The other key component of Mr McIntosh’s role will be engaging with the sector and commissioning and overseeing tenant farming research.
“One of my roles in the first year is to do a commissioner report on the role of agents,” said Mr McIntosh.
He said tenants and landlords would soon receive a survey on the issue.
Mr McIntosh said he also planned to make recommendations to government, following consultation with industry, on what tenants’ improvements should be considered eligible for compensation.
“One of my immediate priorities is to develop a code of practice about the amnesty of tenants’ improvements,” he added.