Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh, has issued a Code of Practice for Agreeing and Managing Agricultural Leases which is to be followed by landowners, tenant farmers and land agents.
The Code of Practice for Agreeing and Managing Agricultural Leases is the sixth to be published by the Commissioner and is intended to ensure that there are robust procedures in place to avoid misunderstandings when a lease is being entered into, when changes are made throughout the term of the lease and when a fixed duration lease is being ended.
The Code sets out some simple principles and practices to follow, by both the tenant farmer and the landlord, as Bob McIntosh explains:
“A decision to sign up to an agricultural lease is one which results in responsibilities and liabilities and should not be taken lightly and without considering the full consequences and implications. Time should be allowed for both parties to negotiate, agree and understand the terms of the lease. In the case of fixed duration leases it is important that both parties are clear about what is likely to happen when the lease has reached the end of its term.
“Misunderstandings, disagreements and disappointments often occur during the term of the lease because verbal agreements are not followed up in writing so it is essential that any agreements made are properly recorded.”
Ending a fixed duration lease can be a difficult outcome for the tenant so it is important that discussions take place in good time about the prospects for renewal and the consequences for both parties of a decision not to renew.
The Code has been developed in consultation with Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Scottish Agricultural Arbiters and Valuers Association (SAAVA). so that, wherever possible, agreed positions are reasonable and fair to both landlords and tenant farmers.
The TFC is responsible for issuing a suite of codes to guide and shape the behaviours and processes which accompany the interactions and negotiations between landlords and tenants, including agents and intermediaries acting for either party. As with all codes issued by the Tenant Farming Commissioner, if a landlord or tenant feels that the other party, or an agent of that party, has acted in a way that breaches the code of practice they are able to report the alleged breach to the Commissioner.
The Code of Practice for Agreeing and Managing Agricultural Leases can be found on the Land Commission’s website.