Tag: tenant farming

Tenant Farming Commissioner publishes Buccleuch Report

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has today issued his report into the handling by Buccleuch Estates of negotiations with agricultural tenants over their farm leases.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC) was asked by Buccleuch Estates to look into concerns raised at a public meeting regarding a number of terminations of Limited Partnership arrangements and a Short Limited Duration tenancy.

The TFC reviewed five cases, looking at how the Estate had dealt with the cases and whether they were handled in accordance with good practice and relevant published codes and guides.

The TFC found that no actions by the Estate were in contravention of agricultural holdings legislation but that best practice was not always followed and that some of the discussions and negotiations could have been handled more sensitively by the Estate.

Bob McIntosh said:

“There are some valuable learning points from this exercise which have relevance for all landlords and tenants. The ending of non-secure tenancies has the potential to be a sensitive issue, particularly where past practices by the landlord may have led tenants, and general partners in an limited partnership, to feel that they have more security of tenure than is actually provided.

“When entering into such arrangements, and throughout the duration of the agreement, it is important that landlords and tenants are clear with each other about their expectations and aspirations for the future and that the outcome of these discussions is recorded so that unpleasant surprises for either party are avoided.

“It is also important, that where action by a land owner is likely to have major implications for land use, for communities and for the circumstances of individual tenants, the exercise is well planned with a good communications and engagement plan.

“Landowners must be able to pursue legitimate business interests but should heed the principles set out in such publications as the Scottish Government’s Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement, the Landowners’ Commitment published by Scottish Land and Estates and the Scottish Government’s ‘Guidance on Engaging Communities on Decisions Relating to land’.

“It will not always be possible to find outcomes that suit all stakeholders but consideration of the external impacts is likely to at least influence the process, and timing, by which change is brought about.

“The primary purpose of the Tenant Farming Commissioner is to promote good relations between landlords and tenants in the agricultural holdings sector.  This report highlights the importance of proactive engagement by landowners and land managers with tenants and communities when significant changes are planned.”

Read the full report here.

Scottish Land Commission publishes James Hutton Institute new entrants report

Land access is a critical barrier for new entrants to agriculture in Scotland according to research published today.

The report, prepared for the Scottish Land Commission by The James Hutton Institute, suggests that existing farmers and landowners are well placed to offer greater opportunities to new entrants – and enhance their own businesses at the same time.

A priority area of work for the Land Commission is agricultural holdings and how to create and sustain a thriving agricultural sector in Scotland. The James Hutton Institute was commissioned to investigate new models and structures to increase the availability of land for new entrants; provide practical guidance on existing joint venture models; identify barriers to succession and retirement; and develop a baseline for measuring success.

The report by McKee et al. explores:

  • Current experience and understanding of joint venture options such as contract farming, partnerships, share farming, agricultural tenancies, and leasing/licensing
  • The potential for tax interventions, with a particular focus on income tax relief in relation to tenancy creation/length
  • English, Welsh, and Irish experience of land matching services
  • The development internationally of farm incubators for new businesses.

In particular the report highlights the need to address issues around the balance of risk and reward on the part of existing farmers/landowners when implementing these models, the profitability of new entrant farming businesses, and the need for trust and relationship building in developing joint ventures.

Speaking about the report, Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh, said

“One of the biggest issues facing new entrants to tenant farming is the lack of access to land. For Scotland to have a successful farming sector there needs to be new entrants to drive innovation and best practice.

“This report explores a number of ways for increasing the availability of land. Working with NFUS and Scotland’s Farm Advisory Service, we will be holding a series of workshops in late summer, looking at the options available to existing farmers and landowners, such as joint ventures and share farming, to offer opportunities for new entrants.”

Further information on the dates for the joint workshops, will be published on the Scottish Land Commission’s website.

To download a copy of the James Hutton Institute report (Increasing the Availability of Farmland for New Entrants to Agriculture in Scotland), click here.

Review makes recommendations to improve relationships between land agents, tenants and landlords

In a report to Scottish Ministers about the conduct of agents of agricultural landlords and tenants, Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner (TFC), Bob McIntosh, has made several recommendations aimed at reducing the number of occasions when landlords and tenants are dissatisfied with the conduct of an agent working for them or for the other party.

The report was a requirement arising from the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 and reflected concern that inexperienced or insensitive agents may be adversely affecting the relationships between landlords and their tenants. The work involved independent surveys of landlords and tenants throughout Scotland with the aim of determining the overall level of satisfaction with the conduct of agents. Instances of dissatisfaction were followed up in more detail and the results of the surveys were shared with the key organisations representing landlords, tenants and agents to help form the recommendations.

Landlords and tenants were generally satisfied by the conduct of agents working on their behalf but less so with that of agents acting on behalf of the other party. Overall, 17 per cent of both landlords and tenants were dissatisfied with the conduct of an agent and dissatisfaction was generally linked to behaviour rather than to any lack of technical or legal knowledge on the part of the agent. The key reasons for dissatisfaction were:

  • Poor communication and inadequate recording of the outcome of meetings
  • Unnecessarily aggressive or condescending behaviour
  • Lack of transparency openness and honesty
  • Lack of awareness of the impact of a single transaction on the long term relationship between landlord and tenant.

The TFC has made nine recommendations for action with most of them relating to the need to improve interpersonal skills through more training, assessment and feedback mechanisms. He has also recommended that the professional bodies representing the majority of agents should increase awareness of, and ease of access to, their complaints procedures and should consider whether their published standards strike the right balance between the duty to a client and a duty to wider professional standards and societal values.

Bob McIntosh said

“It is clear that most agents perform their duties in a professional manner but the actions of a small minority can have a disproportionate effect on the reputation of the agent, their employers or their profession. It is important therefore that everyone involved from training establishments, employers, the professional bodies and the agents themselves, consider the recommendations carefully and take action to ensure that there is continuous improvement leading to a reduction in the instances of dissatisfaction’’

Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity said:

“I am grateful to the Tenant Farming Commissioner for completing this important piece of work and am heartened that he has found both that relationships between tenants and landlords are generally good and that problems with the conduct of agents are not widespread. However, I recognise, as he does, that some problems do exist and there is no room for complacency. I welcome the recommendations, and I look forward to seeing how they are taken forward by the sector.”

Read the full report here.

Discussion paper looks at increasing availability of agricultural land for new entrants

A simpler and more intelligible framework is now required in Scotland to open up the farming letting sector again and promote farming as a viable option for the next generation.

That’s the message in a new paper, ‘Encouraging agricultural lettings in Scotland for the 21st Century’, the fourth in a series of independent discussion papers from the Scottish Land Commission, aimed at stimulating debate about making more of Scotland’s land.

The framework needs to include both simpler tenancy law and a more commercial, business-minded and flexible approach to unlock more land for farm lettings.

In the paper, the author Jeremy Moody, maps the decline in the tenanted farming sector over the past century and the current, complex environment of different and sometimes overlapping, rules.

He assesses the past and current issues facing landlords and tenants including the perception among landlords that land letting is ‘high risk and low return’ and considers wider questions around the political climate and future changes in the context of Brexit.

The paper puts forward a number of proposals including a new income tax relief as an innovative way of addressing increasing land availability. This tax-based approach, seems likely to release more land; evidence from the Republic of Ireland suggests a significant increase in lettings there, following the adoption of a similar relief in 2015.

The paper’s author argues that letting is declining in Scotland despite a strong demand for access to land from new entrants and existing farmers needing to expand or improve the viability of their enterprises.

The Land Commission’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, said:

“For a thriving tenant farming sector there needs to be a steady flow of new entrants to drive innovation and best practice, improve efficiencies and contribute towards the economic vitality of the sector.

“The Commission is looking at ways to stimulate the tenant farming sector and increase the availability of agricultural land. We commissioned this paper to encourage debate around the different approaches and incentives for letting of land.  We will discuss it at the next meeting of the Tenant Farming Advisory Forum in July and we’d welcome written responses by email, ahead of that meeting.

“The different approaches need to be considered alongside the work we’re doing on the current succession and retirement options for farmers and landowners.”

Speaking about his paper, Jeremy Moody said that promoting a positive attitude among both tenant farmers and landowners, “…depends on good quality relationships, with sympathy between the parties and positive approach by advisers. The approach should be to see that a good relationship for farming land should be mutually beneficial.”

Read the Land Lines discussion paper here.

Tenant Farming Commissioner issues new Code and Guidance at Advisory Forum meeting

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner has issued a new Code of Practice on the Late Payment of Rent and a Guide on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution today Tuesday 17 April, 2018.

The code is the fifth to be published by the Commissioner under the authority of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016. The code sets out the processes and behaviours that should be adopted in all cases of late payment of rent for agricultural tenancies.  It also outlines the steps to take by a Landlord, if rent payment is not made on time, to understand what has gone wrong and to ensure that the tenant is given every opportunity to rectify the matter.

The Guide on the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in the Scottish agricultural holdings sector outlines the ways in which ADR can we be used in order to resolve disputes between tenant farmers and landlords without going to court. If parties involved in a dispute take greater responsibility and ownership of it they are more likely to be satisfied with the outcome.

The code and guidance were published at the second meeting of the Tenant Farming Advisory Forum, chaired by the Scottish Land Commission’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh.

Bob McIntosh said:

“I am pleased to publish the latest code and guidance at the second meeting of the Tenant Farming Advisory Forum.

“It is important to have a forum where all of the industry bodies can come together keeping important issues at the forefront and working to secure the future of the tenant farming sector and the vital contribution it makes to Scotland’s rural economy.

“Strong and constructive relationships are a vital component in creating a thriving and prosperous tenant farming sector.   The code and guide published today both work to ensure that relationships are strengthened and do not collapse when under duress or in difficult circumstances.”

The Code of Practice for the Late Payment of Rent and Guide to – The use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Scottish agricultural holdings sector can be found on the Land Commission’s website www.landcommission.gov.scot/tenant-farming

Tenant Farming Commissioner to consult with stakeholders on the review of the conduct of agents of landlords and tenants

The Scottish Land Commission’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, is to consult with key stakeholders on the findings from the review of the conduct of agents of landlords and tenants.

Stakeholders are asked to comment on the findings of the research following the collection of evidence on the views and experiences of landlords and tenants regarding their business interactions with agents.   914 tenant farmers having a total of 1278 tenancies and 121 landlords holding 1705 tenancies were interviewed by telephone.  A wide range of responses were received from throughout Scotland, with the majority reporting a positive experience regarding their interactions with agents.  17% of tenant farmers and 17% of landlords surveyed were dissatisfied with the agent they had dealt with and a sample of these were re-interviewed to dig deeper into the reasons for dissatisfaction.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner is seeking feedback from key stakeholders including Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Scottish Agricultural Arbiters & Valuers Association, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, Scottish Land and Estates, NFUS and the Agricultural Law Association. Consultation submissions will help inform the review, and a final report with recommendations from Tenant Farming Commissioner will be submitted to Scottish Ministers.

Bob McIntosh said

“The evidence collected by the review, on the whole shows a positive response by tenants and landlords on their views and experiences regarding business interactions they have had with agents. Digging deeper into the 17% of tenant farmers and landlords who expressed dissatisfaction has enabled us to get a clearer understanding of the reasons behind the responses.

“It is important that key stakeholders can comment on the findings of the research and be given the opportunity to make submissions to inform the review before the final report is submitted to Ministers.

“Agents play an important role in facilitating the relationship between landlord and tenant. A good agent can deliver for the client while maintaining sound professional standards and avoiding souring the landlord/tenant relationship. It is the responsibility of everyone involved to work together to ensure that this approach is the norm.”

 

The consultation and research reports can be found here.

Scottish Land Commission encourages land owners to take an open approach

The Scottish Land Commission is working to increase the accountability of land ownership and promoting an open approach to decision making.

The Commission welcomes the open approach recently adopted by Buccleuch Estates by holding a public meeting this week to address people’s concerns about their actions and plans for land.

Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, Andrew Thin, said:

“We welcome the decision by Buccleuch Estates to hold a public meeting setting out more information about their plans and to respond to the feedback and views received. The issues and context will vary widely across Scotland but we encourage all land owners to consider a similarly proactive approach to engage people in future plans and address issues where they arise.

“The Commission has a clear objective to increase the accountability of land ownership and land use decision making and we see this as a vital part of modernising our system of land ownership. To support this we will be developing codes and guidance as well as providing practical advice to land owners and communities encouraging improved engagement and accountability.”

The Land Commission’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has been asked by Buccleuch Estates to look into concerns raised at the public meeting regarding the handling of negotiations with agricultural tenants over their farm leases.

Bob McIntosh said:

“The primary purpose of the Tenant Farming Commissioner is to promote good relations between landlords and tenants in the agricultural holdings sector.

“The Chief Executive of Buccleuch Estates has asked me to review how Buccleuch Estates staff have acted when dealing with some recent end of tenancy situations. I will look in to these cases to consider whether they were handled in accordance with good practice and relevant published codes and guides. I am assured that I will have full access to estate staff and records.

“My role is entirely independent and impartial. I would encourage those tenants who are unhappy with the way their situation was handled to contact me so that I can arrange to meet with them in order to fully understand their concerns. All discussions will be in confidence.”

Tenant Farming Commissioner issues Maintenance of Agricultural Holdings Code of Practice

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Tenant Farming Commissioner issues Maintenance of Agricultural Holdings Code of Practice

 Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has issued a Code of Practice to be followed by landowners, tenant farmers and land agents.

The Code of Practice for the Maintenance of the Condition of Tenanted Agricultural Holdings is the fourth to be published by the Commissioner under the authority of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner (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.

Bob McIntosh said:

‘’This code of practice is intended to help provide a route for landlords and tenants to come to agreement about where the responsibility lies in maintaining agricultural holdings in good condition in order for the holding to be efficiently farmed.

“Whilst the responsibility for keeping the fixed equipment in good shape is a joint one, each party has a specific part to play. Most tenants and landlords are able to reach an amicable agreement, however, where agreement is not met, tension can be caused and can result in necessary repairs and maintenance being neglected.

“I have worked closely with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Scottish Agricultural Arbiters and Valuers Association in developing this code so that, wherever possible, agreed positions are reasonable and fair to both landlords and tenant farmers.

“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 been in breach of the principles and procedures as set out in the code they are able to make a formal inquiry to the Commissioner.”

The Code of Practice for the Maintenance of Agricultural Holdings can be found here

ENDS

Tenant Farming Commissioner issues Limited Partnerships Code of Practice

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has issued a Code of Practice to be followed by landowners, tenant farmers and land agents.

The Code of Practice for Planning the Future of Limited Partnerships is the second to be published by the Commissioner under the authority of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.

The Tenant Farming Commissioner (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.

Bob McIntosh said:

‘’The aim of this code of practice is to minimise uncertainty for both parties in a Limited Partnership when it is approaching its dissolution date. The code describes what steps should be taken, by both the tenant farmer and the landlord, when discussing future arrangements for the partnership.

“Limited Partnerships have served the tenant farming sector well, but following the passing of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003 they now have restricted use. There are over 500 limited partnerships still in existence and many are reaching their dissolution date.  It is important that discussions take place with plenty of time for both parties involved to discuss their aspirations before a final decision is agreed to the future of the partnership.

“I have worked closely with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in developing this code so that, wherever possible, agreed positions are reasonable and fair to both landlords and tenant farmers.

“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 make a complaint to the Commissioner.“

The Code of Practice for Planning for the Future of Limited Partnerships can be found on the Land Commission’s website www.landcommission.gov.scot/tenant-farming/codes-of-practice/.

Tenant Farming Commissioner issues first Code of Practice

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has issued the first Code of Practice to be followed by landowners, tenant farmers and land agents.

 

The Code of Practice for the Amnesty on Tenants’ Improvements is the first to be published by the Commissioner under the authority of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 and comes ahead of the Scottish Government’s improvements amnesty which starts tomorrow.

 

The Tenant Farming Commissioner (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.

 

Bob McIntosh said:

 

“The code is intended to help landlords and tenants work together in a fair and transparent manner to agree on a definitive list of tenants improvements which may be eligible for compensation at waygo.

 

“Those who follow the principles set out in the code, and who act reasonably, do not risk being the subject of a complaint that is upheld by the TFC.  In broad terms, disagreements should be resolved by dialogue, mediation or arbitration.  Failure to reach agreement or engage in mediation will not in itself necessarily constitute a breach of the code but the TFC may decide that an obstructive or unreasonable attitude by either party may constitute a breach.”

 

Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, said:

 

“A vibrant, robust tenant farming sector is a key component of a strong, sustainable rural economy, now and in the future. I welcome the publication of this Code of Practice, which has been developed through the Tenant Farming Commissioner working closely with stakeholder organisations, I hope that it will prove useful to both tenants and landlords.”

 

The Code of Practice for the Amnesty on Tenants’ Improvements can be found here.