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Insights from the Tenant Farming Manager

Peter MacDougall

In a break from the usual TFC Blog I am going to take the reins from Bob and use this as an opportunity to introduce myself and share my first impressions of working at the Scottish Land Commission (SLC). My name is Peter MacDougall, I am the Tenant Farming Manager at the SLC, and I work closely with the Tenant Farming Commissioner. I was born and brought up on a tenanted farm which I still run today. I started in post late last year and have now been in the role for six months therefore I am in a good position to comment on my first impressions of the challenges.

One of the most interesting aspects of my role is to respond to and promote the TFC Helpline and it makes sense that this has given me the most exposure to issues within the sector. The helpline is available to anyone with an interest in Letting land, Landlords, Tenants, Agents of either, and anyone looking for more information on agricultural tenancy and letting matters. Whether you are actively involved or just a concerned family member, friend or neighbour please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us directly at 01463 423 300 or

So, what have I picked up so far from working with the TFC?

If you have a lease, read it! Always read the lease in its entirety, the detail in the small print is what will be reverted to in the event of a dispute. I can’t stress enough how important it is for all parties to read it and understand it. If you don’t feel comfortable reading it, have someone with the necessary experience or attention to detail to read it on your behalf. A small spend now could avoid a much larger cost later. This is relevant for all types of lease, for old leases and new leases to be entered into.

If you need to meet with your tenant, landlord, or agent do everything you can to meet in person. Email and Teams are great but can often lead to misinterpretation and, I believe, can be a major contributor to the breakdown of relationships. Nothing compares to face to face contact when key discussions are held. My experience of both landlords and tenants is that they are reasonable people and want the best for their respective businesses. If both parties invest in this relationship, it really is an investment in the future.

Minute your meetings. All meetings should be minuted and the minutes agreed after the meeting. We have all had meetings and then struggled with the fine detail of what was agreed after the passage of time or had a slightly different interpretation of what was said. This can cause unnecessary conflict and can be avoided by keeping good records of what was agreed.

Keep your receipts! Any disagreement or dispute will rely solely on evidence, so gather evidence, make notes, save correspondence as this will be the basis for any decisions made, especially in the absence of a written lease. Knowing is not enough.

Write a will and make sure your executors are familiar with the timescales for transferring a tenancy. The rules on the transfer of a tenancy by assignation and succession are clear but are not widely understood. Whether an estate is testate or intestate, it is possible to make these transfers, but to do so it is vital the executor is familiar with the timescales which must be met. Failure to meet these timescales will in most cases lead to the end of a tenancy.

The final take home I have is that no relationship is beyond repair, and no problem is better ignored! I once asked an orchard owner when the best time was to plant an apple tree. His response was “25 years ago…but the next best time is today”. If you have issues with any aspect of an agricultural tenancy, don’t ignore the problem, contact us today.