Tenant farmers have been reminded to make use of a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to register any improvements eligible for compensation at waygo.
Farmers attending a meeting organised by NFU Scotland, in conjunction with law firm Gillespie Macandrew and Aberdeen & Northern Estates (ANE), were reminded that the clock was ticking to make use of the tenants’ amnesty.
Gillespie Macandrew partner Alan White said the amnesty was a “one time only chance” for tenants to create a good record of improvements which are eligible for compensation at the end of the tenancy.
He said there was a limited timeframe to take advantage of the three-year amnesty period, which began in June 2017.
When registering, tenants would need to show what the improvement was for and why it was reasonable they should be compensated for it, added Mr White.
He urged tenants who had not yet taken advantage of the amnesty, to do so as a matter of priority. This was backed by NFUS regional manager for the north-east Lorna Paterson.
She said: “We lobbied government hard to create this amnesty but if you don’t use it and still have problems (in the sector) afterwards, government is not going to listen to us if we ask for another amnesty.
“It’s so important that people get on and do it.”
Farmers attending the meeting at the Thainstone Centre, near Inverurie, were also told about impending changes to tenancy legislation as set out in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.
Mr White said changes to the rent review process and new relinquishment legislation, which will allow a tenant to assign a 1991 act secure tenancy for value, were coming.
His colleague Mike Blair – another partner at Gillespie Macandrew – said these changes, along with a widening of the group of people in which a tenant can assign a tenancy, meant the dynamics in the sector had shifted in favour of tenants.
ANE valuer James Craig said the value of a secure 1991 act tenancy was likely to be around 25% of the value of the vacant farm value. However the relinquishment process was likely to be “onerous”.
Huntly tenant farmer Tom Johnston said the relinquishment legislation, which is designed to allow assignation for value to new tenants or those actively progressing in farming, would only benefit the sector if the prices for the tenancies were affordable.