A thriving and prosperous tenant farming sector relies on a strong and constructive relationship between tenants and landlords and a positive and professional approach by intermediaries acting on behalf of landlord and/or tenant. Such relationships need to be based on mutual respect and shared values and a common approach to fairness and reasonableness. The 2015 Agriculture Holdings Review acknowledged that there are many examples of good relationships but also heard evidence of many poor relationships based on mistrust, lack of communication and a ‘them and us’ culture.
While acknowledging the good work of industry leaders in trying to improve the situation, the report received many submissions arguing for greater Government intervention to help build a culture based on partnership and co-operation for mutual benefit. Specifically, it recommended the creation of a neutral Tenant Farming Commissioner with the task of promoting and encouraging good relations between landlords and tenants and with powers to publish codes of practice and to investigate alleged breaches of the codes.
The Scottish Government accepted these recommendations and the post and functions of the Tenant Farming Commissioner were introduced on 1 April 2017 by means of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.
Functions of the Tenant Farming Commissioner
These are defined in Part 2, Chapter 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.
- Prepare codes of practice for the purpose of providing practical guidance to landlords and tenants of agricultural holdings and their agents
- Promote the existence and observance of the codes of practice.
- Inquire into alleged breaches of the codes of practice.
- Prepare a report on the operation of agents of landlords and tenants and submit this to Scottish Ministers within one year of the TFC’s duties coming into force.
- Prepare recommendations for a modern list of improvements to agricultural holdings.
- Refer for the opinion of the Land Court any question of law relating to agricultural holdings.
- Collaborate with the Land Commissioners in the exercise of their functions to the extent that those functions relate to agriculture and agricultural holdings.
- Exercise any other functions conferred on the Commissioner by any enactment.
Other Aspects of the Work of the Tenant Farming Commissioner
The TFC must exercise the functions to encourage good relations between landlords and tenants of agricultural holdings and contribute to the development and delivery of Government policies and strategies in relation to agricultural holdings.
The TFC can commission studies that improve our knowledge and understanding of the issues facing the sector now and in the future.
The TFC will maintain close contact with the key representative bodies supporting the sector and will work closely with them in determining priorities for codes of practice, deciding on which studies to commission and providing a forum for discussion of matters pertinent to the development of the sector.
Contact the TFC
0300 244 4452
Guide to Land Reform