A significant number of Scottish tenant farmers did not complete the amnesty on tenants’ improvements ahead of last month’s deadline.
The one-off amnesty allows landlords and tenants to rectify any outstanding issues around notification of improvements which should qualify for compensation when the tenancy comes to an end.
Scottish Tenant Farming Commissioner Bob McIntosh said a number of formal amnesty notices have been issued on behalf of tenants in instances where amnesty agreements were not finalised by December 12 2020.
Landlords have two months to decide whether to object to the notice or not, and if they issue a notice of objection the tenant has a further two months to decide whether to apply to have the matter considered by the Land Court.
“Concern has been raised about the implications of Covid restrictions on the ability to finalise agreements where a field inspection is required, while complying with the time-limited legal procedures that follow from the issue of an amnesty notice and with the aim of avoiding the issue having to be determined by the Land Court,” said Mr McIntosh.
He is urging tenants and landlords to make use of technology, where possible, to finalise agreements during the pandemic.
“Seeing and discussing a claimed improvement on the screen of a smartphone, tablet or laptop may not be as good as a meeting on site but may be sufficient to satisfy the landlord that the claimed improvement meets the eligibility criteria,” said Mr McIntosh.
“This can be done in real-time or after submission of an online video by the tenant.”
He added: “With good will on both sides therefore, it should still be possible, despite the Covid restrictions, to reach agreement without the need to refer the matter to the Land Court and without prejudicing the position of either party, albeit that reaching such agreement may take longer than would otherwise have been the case.”