Plans to reform centuries old property law by converting long lease properties into ownership got underway today as a Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
The proposed changes, introduced through the Long Leases (Scotland) Bill, could affect 9,000 long leases in certain parts of Scotland.
The Bill marks the final stage of property law reform and would allow for long lease properties to be converted into ownership. Tenants may opt out if they wish, while landlords can claim compensation for the loss of their rights.
The introduction of the Bill follows a consultation earlier this year.
Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“Property law has been updated in recent years and the passage of this Bill would mark the final stage of property law reform in Scotland.
“Long leases were a feature of a very different part of this country’s history – the industrial revolution. Times have changed and the responses to our consultation earlier demonstrated the need for reform. Now the Long Leases (Scotland) Bill presents the opportunity to do that.”
Very long leases tended to be granted by large estates, often between 1770 to 1860, to encourage the industrialisation of Scotland. They were often for 999 years and tend to be concentrated in particular parts of Scotland. The Scottish Government is aware of very long leases in Alva, Ardrossan, Blairgowrie, Saltcoats, Stevenson and Wishaw.
Leases would be eligible to convert to ownership so long as they were granted for more than 175 years; have more than 100 years to run and the tenant does not opt out. Compensation and additional payments would be payable to landlords. We estimate that there are around 9,000 long leases in Scotland which would be eligible to convert into ownership under the Bill.
The consultation, which began on 31 March 2010, was based on recommendations made by a Scottish Law Commission (SLC) Report of December 2006 on the conversion of long leases to ownership.
The SLC is established by statue to promote law reform. It recommends ways of simplifying, updating and improving the law of Scotland.
The SLC report on long leases completes a detailed review of the structure of land law in Scotland. Previous SLC reports resulted in:
* The Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000
* The Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003
* The Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004