A new code of practice for agreeing and managing agricultural leases has been issued by Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, following full consultation with the country’s farming and landowning organisations.
Intended to ensure “robust procedures” are in place to avoid misunderstandings when a lease is being entered into, the new code is described by the commissioner as providing simple principles and practices for tenant farmers and landlords to follow.
“A decision to sign up to an agricultural lease is one which results in responsibilities and liabilities and should not be taken lightly and without considering the full consequences and implications,” said Mr McIntosh.
“Time should be allowed for both parties to negotiate, agree and understand the terms of the lease and, in the case of fixed-duration leases, it’s important that both parties are clear about what is likely to happen when the lease has reached the end of its term.
“Misunderstandings, disagreements and disappointments often occur during the term of the lease because verbal agreements are not followed up in writing so it is essential that any agreements made are properly recorded.”
He also said that ending a fixed duration lease can be a difficult outcome for the tenant, making it important that discussions take place in good time about the prospects for renewal, or the consequences for both parties of a decision not to renew.
The new code has been developed in consultation with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Scottish Agricultural Arbiters and Valuers Association.