Scottish farmers renting land from the Crown Estate will have more security and flexibility following the introduction of new tenancy agreements, according to the landowner.

The Crown is in the process of converting most of the limited partnership tenancies and short-term agreements on the 38,000ha (94,000 acres) of land it owns north of the border into limited duration tenancies and short limited duration tenancies.

These were introduced by the Scottish Executive in 2003 as part of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act.

LDTs last for a minimum of 15 years with no maximum term, while SLDTs provide tenancies for a maximum of five years.

Alan Laidlaw, the estate’s head of customer management, said:

“We are finding that agreements such as limited partnerships are rather cumbersome on administration for both tenant and landowner.

This process removes uncertainty for tenants occupying land on limited partnerships that we feel will become increasingly anachronistic.”

John Smith, who rents 71ha (175 acres) on the Crown’s Fochabers Estate in Moray with his two sons, is converting his limited partnership agreement into a 35-year LDT:

“The longer duration of the new lease will provide a degree of security and direction for my sons which is very important in establishing them within our main farming business.”

Angus McCall, chairman of the Scottish Tenant Farmers’ Association, said:

“We have been calling for the new tenancies to be introduced for some time now and are delighted in the progressive way that The Crown Estate has accepted the challenge in converting its farms on limited partnership arrangements to the new tenancies.

“We have been lobbying other major landowners to do likewise and hope that they will follow The Crown Estate’s example and help bring stability to the tenanted sector and secure the future for all tenant farmers.”

NFU Scotland policy director Scott Walker agreed, but added:

“Is it important that all individuals consider their own personal circumstances.

There are some occasions where tenants may be best served by their existing agreement and they should always take advice before considering changing.”