Green light for tenant farming reforms

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A package of reforms to modernise the tenant farming sector have been approved by the Scottish Parliament.

The Agricultural Holdings (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill builds on previous reforms and aims to increase availability of agricultural land for let and encourage new and young farmer entrants into farming.

One of the main changes introduced by the new legislation is set to make it easier for grandchildren to inherit farm tenancies.  Previously if a farm tenant had wished to pass on their tenancy to a grand-child the process was fraught with difficulties.

In a high profile case four years ago, involving a dispute over the tenancy of a farm in the Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh, the courts eventually found in favour of the grandson of a deceased tenant who faced eviction. The case, “Salvesen vs Graham”, is seen by many as having paved the way for the re-definition of “near relative” under the new legislation.

Commenting on the passing of the Agricultural Holdings (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said, “We are committed to ensuring Scotland has a healthy and vibrant tenant farming sector.

“That’s why we’re working to remove barriers to the letting of farm land, increase confidence in the working relationships between landlord and tenants and give the tenant farming sector a greater level of security.”

“The Tenant Farming Forum has worked with us to develop solutions to the issues affecting the industry and today (also) launched their Rent Review Working Group.”

Rent reviews on tenanted farms have long been a controversial subject.  The Rent Review Working Group will now set out to investigate what else may be done to make the rent review procedure less contentious for both parties.