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TFC Blog: Holding out the hope of settling tenancy issues

Bob McIntosh

The Tenant Farming Commissioner, Bob McIntosh, blogs about his work improving relations between tenants and landlords:

If you are a tenant with a secure (1991 Act) tenancy, you’re in a favourable position compared with those on a fixed term tenancy.

Provided a secure tenant fulfils the obligations set out in the lease and/or the Agricultural Holdings legislation, they can look forward to long term security of tenure.

Secure tenants can now also seek to pass the tenancy on to a wide range of immediate and extended family members, thereby keeping the holding in the same family for generations.

Many land owners of tenanted farms are content with this situation and work constructively with the tenant to enhance the productivity of the holding.

Others, however, may wish to gain vacant possession, perhaps because they are unhappy with the tenant’s stewardship of the holding or perhaps because the landlord would ideally like to farm the land themselves.

If the former is the issue there are mechanisms within the legislation to deal with bad tenants and to ensure that the stewardship of the holding improves.

If the tenant is a satisfactory one, but the landlord still wishes to regain possession, the landlord must accept that this can only be achieved by agreement with the tenant and that it will normally involve compensating the tenant for loss of the secure tenancy.

Many such deals are achieved, particularly in circumstances where the tenant has no successors and is wishing to retire.

However, one of the most unsatisfactory situations I encounter in my role as Tenant Farming Commissioner is that where the landlord is unable to agree a deal with the tenant over relinquishment of the tenancy and resorts to making life as difficult as possible for the tenant in the hope that they will agree to leave.

All this normally achieves is increasing antagonism and mistrust, a complete breakdown of the landlord/tenant relationship and an increasing propensity to resort to litigation in order to resolve disputes.

This is not the way to deal with this issue and it is to be hoped that landlords and tenants can arrive at sensible arrangements to protect the interests of both parties.


The Tenant Farming Commissioner is responsible for promoting and encouraging good relations between landlords and tenants to the benefit of the tenant farming sector as a whole. If you would like impartial advice on any tenant farming matter, please contact the Scottish Land Commission office on 01463 42300 or email