More than half of Scotland’s farm tenants are now edging perilously close to losing out on a priceless opportunity to rectify historical mistakes.
According to the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA), the “vast bulk” of tenants have not even made a start on the amnesty on farm improvements granted under the 2016 Land Reform Act.
The amnesty, which is due to run out on June 12, 2020, allows landlords and tenants to make a definitive record of the improvements they have made to farms, even if proper procedures were not followed at the time. The STFA says the process is likely to take at least six months, so anyone who fails to begin in the next few weeks is likely to run out of time.
STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson spent last week speaking at meetings across the country, and said most of those who attended had either finished their amnesties or were working on them. However, he said these farmers were in the minority and urged fellow tenants to act at once.
“Not only is it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make good some of the mistakes of the past and ensure that investments made by generations of tenants are officially recognised, but it is also key to using many of the new provisions in the 2016 Act and to the future of your tenancy,” he said.
“For example; an agreed list of tenants improvements and other works are crucial for transferring the tenancy to the next generation and for receiving end of tenancy compensation; the new rent test is based on what the holding can produce with what the landlord provided and will depend on an agreed list of improvements and fixtures so they can be disregarded; and, thirdly, knowing who owns what is vital in the event that either the tenant buys out the landlord’s interest or vice versa.”
The STFA meetings continue with one at Jury’s Inn, Inverness, tomorrow, and Thainstone, near Inverurie, on Thursday. Both start at 7.30pm.