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Relief for Tenant Farmers as Amnesty Deadline is Extended

Fri 15 May 2020

On Wednesday 13th May, the Scottish Government announced that there will be a be six-month extension to the amnesty period as a result of Covid-19 social distancing measures which have prevented crucial meetings between tenants, landlords and agents from taking place. The extension results in a new deadline of 12th December 2020.

The Scottish Government brought in the amnesty in June 2017, allowing landlords and tenants to rectify any outstanding issues around notification of tenants’ improvements which should qualify for compensation when the tenancy comes to an end. Whilst improvements should be documented at the time they were undertaken, this is rarely the case and, without undergoing the amnesty process, landlords are under no obligation to compensate tenants for these improvements at the end of their tenancy.

Helen Proud, Rural Chartered Surveyor said: “The extension will be a welcome relief for many tenants who are currently trying to negotiate amnesties with their landlord or his agent, particularly where a site meeting cannot be organised due to social distancing. This is also an opportunity for those tenants who haven’t yet submitted their list of improvements to their landlords; whilst from experience the process can take well over six months to complete, there is still time if you act now.”

It is often believed by tenants that the amnesty process isn’t beneficial because they do not ever plan to leave the farm. However, it is important to remember that the amnesty will also be beneficial at a rent review; where having an agreed list of all improvements can be a real eye opener to the agent on the other side. In many instances, once a landlord’s agent looks at all of the improvements which have been made by the tenants, they are looking at a very different farm when considering rental value. This will be particularly important when the new proposed rent test, based on the productive capacity of the farm, is brought in.

Helen continued: “Whilst this is welcome news for all parties, I urge landlords and tenants to not use this as a reason for delaying the completion of discussions due to the deadline as it is a timely process and we simply cannot justify the delay of advanced discussions and agreements.”

For further information, please contact Helen.