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Tenant Farming Commissioner calls on tenants and landlords to consider Brexit in rent reviews

Scotland’s Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, is calling on landlords and tenants of agricultural holdings to carefully consider the impact of Brexit where a rent review is due.

Bob McIntosh said:

‘’Consideration of the prevailing economic conditions in the agriculture sector is an important component of rent review discussions.

“Rent reviews initiated this year will fix rents until 2021 and that period will overlap with the UK’s planned withdrawal from the European Union. Given the uncertainty over the impact of Brexit on agricultural commodity prices and, possibly, the level of support payments, there is a risk that rents fixed now may turn out to be significantly out of kilter with the market place within two years.

“While rent reviews provide a good opportunity for landlords and tenants to meet to discuss current issues there are good reasons to consider whether this is the right time to make changes unless there are pressing reasons for doing so.”

Scottish Tenant Farmers Association Chairman, Christopher Nicholson, said:

“This is a welcome and sensible proposal from the Tenant Farming Commissioner. STFA have been advising tenants to factor Brexit risks into rent reviews, in particular the prospect of falling support payments and commodity market uncertainty which make rent increases difficult to justify.  Any tenant who feels they are being pushed to agree to an unfair rent rise should refer the matter to the Commissioner.”

NFU Scotland’s President, Andrew McCornick, said:

“Both landlords and tenants face an unparalleled level of uncertainty as a result of the Brexit decision. With little clarity on future support levels or what direction our agricultural policy may take, it makes sense to consider whether this is the right time to make changes until a clear picture emerges.”

Scottish Land and Estates Chairman, David Johnstone, said:

“It is recognised good practice to regularly review rents and Brexit should clearly be considered as one factor, alongside many others, when undertaking such a review. It should also be remembered that the service of a rent review notice does not mean that a landlord is necessarily seeking an increase, it simply allows the matter to be looked at on the due date. Brexit may bring both negative and positive effects in the short and longer-term, but our message for both landlords and tenants is to take account of each other’s business circumstances and maintain positive and constructive dialogue throughout future rent reviews.”