Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh, is advising that the agricultural holdings sector needs to come together to agree a way forward to ensure agricultural housing is subject to the same standards as private rented housing.
Currently most housing on tenanted farms is subject to the tolerable standard – a house that falls below it is not acceptable as living accommodation – and it is widely accepted that this needs to be changed so that housing which forms part of an agricultural holding tenancy should be subject to the repairing standard. This is the minimum standard for private rented housing which sets out criteria that the property must meet before being let out.
The Scottish Government intends to introduce a requirement for all farmhouses to meet the Repairing Standard by 2027.
Bob McIntosh explains:
“The Repairing Standard does not currently apply to farmhouses that are part of an agricultural tenancy.
“In most tenancy agreements the landlord has the responsibility for replacing and renewing parts of the farmhouse which are worn out through fair wear and tear and the tenant is responsible for repairing and maintaining the farmhouse. However this may be affected by post lease agreements which transfer responsibilities to the tenant. The result is a variable picture in the standard of housing, with some farmhouses having been improved by the landlord, some by the tenant, some by both and some hardly at all.
“The introduction of new legislation will put the onus for any work onto the landlord but it is not clear if this will take precedence over existing post lease agreements which transfer responsibilities to the tenant.
“My advice is that everyone involved in the agricultural holdings sector need to give this issue some serious thought and come together to agree a sensible way forward that respects the legislation and which is fair to both the landlord and the tenant.”
Tenants and landlords with a farmhouse which is treated as fixed equipment are to adhere to the TFC’s Code of Practice on The Maintenance of the Condition of Tenanted Agricultural Holdings.
If you would like to find out more about this read Bob’s latest blog.