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Only one year left under amnesty for agricultural tenants

Tenant farmers across Scotland have less than a year left to notify their landlord about improvements they’ve made to land or buildings if they want to get compensation at the end of their tenancy, under a special amnesty.

Introduced by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, the Tenant’s Amnesty’ runs until 13 June 2020. It

  • allows tenants to rectify any outstanding issues around past improvements that should qualify for waygo (end of the tenancy), despite missing notices or consents
  • does not apply where the landlord objected to the original improvement notice or the improvement is significantly different from the original notice
  • may be essential when it comes to rent reviews and relinquishment of 1991 Act tenancies

The definition of an improvement is broad and includes any buildings including houses and cottages. It also includes improvements to land such as ditches, drainage, removal of stones; field boundaries and access improvements.

Speaking about the tenant’s amnesty, Tenant Farming Commissioner Bob McIntosh said, “With less than one year remaining of the amnesty, I urge all tenants to decide promptly whether to use it – or not.

“It can take time to pull together all the evidence you may need to submit through an amnesty notice and to agree the list with the landowner. Don’t leave it too late.

The amnesty is a one-off, time limited opportunity for tenants to ensure that past improvements are recorded as being eligible for compensation at waygo.

In a nutshell, tenants must:

  1. submit a list of claimed improvements which are within the scope of the eligibility rules, through an amnesty notice which must set out the details of the improvement and why it is fair and equitable for compensation to be agreed and payable at waygo
  2. meet with their landlord, ideally on the farm to review the list
  3. assemble as much evidence as they can to resolve any disputed items
  4. record the final list of agreed, eligible improvements and have it signed and dated by both parties

A Code of Practice, guidance and templates produced by the Tenant Farming Commissioner, together with Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, CAAV and SAAVA explains how the amnesty works and how landlords and tenants can work together to agree a list of tenants improvements which may be eligible for compensation at waygo.