Sweeping proposals designed to allow Scottish tenant farmers to “escape the clutches of bad landlords” have been presented to the Scottish government by a high profile review group.
The radical recommendations from the Agricultural Holdings Review Group include enabling 1991 Act tenants to apply to the Scottish Land Court to force the sale of a holding where a landlord does not meet their obligations.
Other recommendations designed to revitalise tenant farming in Scotland include creating a Tenant Farming Commissioner, improving how rents are set and widening succession rights for 1991 Act tenants.
The report also suggests that provision should be made to enable a 1991 Act tenant who wants to retire to convert to a modern Limited Duration Tenancy with a minimum term of 35 years, and then be able to transfer that tenancy to anyone on the open market for value.
The review group is chaired by Scotland’s rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead, who described the review as a “once in a generation” opportunity to ensure a secure and vibrant future for the sector. Mr Lochhead added that the sector had seen the amount of tenanted agricultural land in Scotland almost halve in the past 30 years despite countless attempts to find new letting vehicles.
“Some of the proposals relate to right to buy and are intended to provide tenants with a solution to escape the clutches of bad landlords – but for the vast majority of landlords who have positive relationships with their tenants, these recommendations will pose no threat,” he said.
“I am confident this report is the turning point for tenant farming and Scottish agriculture and I hope it will instill confidence and enable those working in the sector to strengthen relationships and build a strong future together.”
The report will now be debated by industry and the Scottish parliament, with changes to legislation anticipated in a Land Reform Bill by the end of the parliamentary session in March 2016.