Tenants set to diversify in Scotland

19 April 2002

Tenants set to diversify in Scotland

NEW tenancy agreements, which include provision for tenants to diversify and invest in their business, were unveiled in Scotland this week.

The draft Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Bill will also give about 10,000 farmers with existing secure tenancies under the 1991 Act first refusal to buy their farm if it is put on the market.

The purchase price should reflect open-market value and should be determined by an independent valuer.

Launching the draft bill, rural development minister Ross Finnie said: "A healthy tenanted sector is important for stimulating our rural economy and revitalising rural communities.

"In particular, I want landowners to be able to let land with confidence and ensure that land is used effectively. And I want tenants to have the security and opportunity to plan and invest in their business and, where appropriate, diversify."

The draft bill, which should reach the statute book by next year, provides for two new types of fixed-term tenancy. The Short Limited Duration Tenancy will cover a maximum of five years, while the Limited Duration Tenancy will run for a minimum of 15 years.

Provision will be made for new tenants and those who already have tenancy agreements in place under the 1991 Act to diversify and to implement conservation schemes, subject to certain safeguards for landlords.

Current dispute resolution procedures are too slow and expensive, said Mr Finnie. "The existing system of compulsory arbitration, including its statutory procedures, will be abolished."

Future disputes should be resolved by voluntary arbitration, with the Scottish Land Court providing final jurisdiction, if necessary.

Landowners and NFU Scotland welcomed the new tenancy agreements and a simpler disputes procedure. &#42

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