Image: Abandoned farm on a Deeside estate.

Should tenant farmers in Scotland be given the legal right to convert their tenancies into ownership of the farm that they and their descendants have occupied and worked in some cases for over a century? It’s a question that will be at the centre of a review of agricultural tenancies soon to be announced by the Scottish Government. It is a question that has already been answered in the affirmative for individual crofters (Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 1976), for leaseholders of residential property in England and Wales (dating back to Leasehold Reform Act 1967), for crofting communities (Part 3 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003), and for long leaseholders in Scotland (Long Leases (Scotland) Act 2012).

The issue was last debated in 2003 during the passage of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003. This act provides secure tenants with a qualified right to buy their farm if and when it is put up for sale buy its owner. Secure tenancies (or 1991 tenancies – so-called after a consolidating Act in 1991) are the traditional form of agricultural tenancy many of which have been in place for well over a century. The Act also introduced new short tenancies for specified durations of 5 years (short limited duration tenancies) and 10 years (limited duration tenancies) – let’s call both of these “2003 tenancies”.

On 4 February 2003 during the Committee Stage of the 2003 Act, Fergus Ewing MSP argued that secure tenants should be given an unqualified right to buy at any time. He argued that,

“I find it somewhat ironic that Conservatives who extol the benefits of property ownership want to keep the benefits of property ownership to the few—indeed, the very few—landed estates. The Conservatives do not seem to realise the huge potential that could be unleashed by the creation of more property owners.

“I look forward to hearing what my Conservative friends on the committee have to say about why they do not want many more family farms under ownership in Scotland. Do they not accept that the vehicle of ownership will unleash a spirit of entrepreneurialism that could help to achieve some of the objectives that the Executive propounds in its forward strategy for agriculture?

“The SNP supports the absolute right to buy for secure heritable tenants. We recognise secure heritable tenants as a distinct group of people in Scotland. We do not advocate that those who have short leases should have the right to buy. We have never done so and will never do so, because, in most cases, secure heritable tenants have farmed the land for the whole of their lives, and their fathers and grandfathers, mothers and grandmothers did so before them.” (1)

Ewing’s challenge to the Conservatives is interesting. Back in 1946, Anthony Eden, in a speech to the Conservative Party conference had in fact extolled the virtues of just such a property owning democracy.

We believe that it is desirable to elaborate schemes whereby the private citizen and the returned soldier should be in a position not only to rent a house but to own one.” Conservatives believed, he added, believe “that the tenant farmer should be assisted and encouraged to become an owner-occupier.” (2)

The purpose of this blog, however, is not to visit the arguments for and against an unqualified right to buy for tenant farmers but to refute an assertion made by landowners in opposition to it – an assertion that has been repeated ad nauseum for over 10 years.

The day after Fergus Ewing’s amendment was defeated, Robert Balfour, the chairman of the Scottish Landowners’ Federation task force on land reform, said, “The SLF is glad that common sense has prevailed. An absolute right to buy will not achieve any of the aims of the Bill and will shatter the tenanted sector.”

More recently Scottish Land and Estates asserted that the revival of the debate on right to buy is jeopardising confidence among landowners to let land.

Many landowners, in evidence to the Land Reform Review Group argued that the threat of a right to buy would be a disaster. Richard Stirling-Aird argued that the right to buy was “probably the biggest deterrent to owners of land to let farms, and the mere threat itself is sufficient to pretty well dry up such supply of farms coming up for let

Roxburghe Estates claimed that “Any proposal to grant existing tenant farmers the right to buy their farm at any time, rather than, as at present, when a landowner plans to sell, will have a serious impact on the supply of land to let. Confidence in letting land would be destroyed“.

The problem with such prophecies of doom is that there is no rational basis to believe that either

1, the threat of a right to buy should lead to any reduction in the amount of land to be let or,

2. such a right would, if it were introduced, reduce the amount of land available to let.

Let’s deal with the first claim first.

The right to buy has only ever been and is only being proposed for secure tenants – so-called 1991 tenants. As Fergus Ewing confirmed in 2003, no-one has or is proposing that any such right to buy be granted to tenants of 2003 tenancies. It is thus disingenuous to claim that any landowner should be put off granting such short tenancies. Indeed from 2005 to 2012, the number of SLDT tenancies has increased from 285 to 540 and LDT tenancies from 99 to 321. (3)

As for 1991 tenancies, they have been in decline for decades (down from 6348 in 2005 to 5402 in 2012). There is no possibility of any reduction in land let under traditional secure tenancies for the simple reason that landowners stopped granting such leases a long time ago.

There are thus no credible or reasonable grounds for arguing that the threat of a right will lead to a reduction in the amount of land to rent. No-one is granting secure tenancies in any case and no-one is proposing that 2003 tenancies be made subject to any right to buy.

Now let’s deal with the second claim.

It presumes that if most or all of Scotland’s tenant farmers become owner occupiers, there will be a reduction in the extent of land that is tenanted. Since 1982, there has been a steady decline in tenanted land as illustrated in the graph below – down from 42% in 1982 to 24% in 2012.

GRAPH – Percentage of agricultural land under a tenancy lasting at least one year 1982 – 2010. Source see footnote 3

Of course, if all tenant farmers were to exercise their right to buy, there would be a further immediate reduction but the important point is that there is no evidence to suggest that the extent of land that is leased overall will, in the longer term, reduce any further than it has already.

Indeed, there is evidence to suggest the precise opposite. In Norway, for example, in a country of owner-occupiers where tenant farmers as we recognise them in Scotland don’t exist, tenanted agricultural land has increased from 20% in 1979 to over 42% in 2010. See graph below.

Source: Statistics Norway, Census of Agriculture 2010.

Most countries in the EU have a high proportion of tenanted land. Compared to Scotland’s 24%, France has 74% and Germany 62% of its agricultural land rented out to farmers.

Country percentage of tenanted land
France 74%
Belgium 67%
Germany 62%
Sweden 39%
Finland 34%
Greece 32%
Italy 28%
Spain 27%
Netherlands 25%
Scotland 25%
Ireland 18%
Share of rented land as a % of the total UAA (2007) Source: Eurostat

The difference is that the vast majority of Scotland’s secure tenants own no land – they rent the whole farm including the family home. In France and Germany, the vast majority of farmers who rent land are also owner-occupier farmers themselves. In other words, across most of Europe owner-occupier farmers lease land to each other as and when they need to. The landlord and the tenant have equal status because they are both landowners. So whereas in Scotland, it is common for landowners to have multiple tenants, in France and Norway, individual farmers have multiple landowners.

Implementing a right to buy for Scotland’s tenant farmers could easily, if the European experience is any guide, lead to an increase in the amount of tenanted land available. 

If this is the case, it lends weight to the argument put forward by Professor James Hunter that the introduction of the right to buy should be accompanied by new freedoms to contract. This would mean landowners were free to enter whatever arrangements they saw fit with prospective tenants. Existing leases would continue until they expired and perhaps the 2003 tenancies would continue to be available for those wishing an off the shelf arrangement.

Is it not time, as this respondent argued to the Land Reform Review Group, to let Scotland flourish?

UPDATE 18 SEPTEMBER 2013

Richard Lochhead gave evidence to the Rural Affairs, Climate CHange and Environment Committee this morning on agricultural tenancies. I will post a link to the official report as soon as it is available. Meanwhile, here is the text of a statement released after the Committee.

“Absolute right to buy will only be considered for secure farm tenancies in Scotland, the Rural Affairs Secretary has confirmed. Speaking after giving evidence on a range of agricultural matters to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, Mr Lochhead said:

“I have taken this opportunity to confirm more detail about the Scottish Government’s review of tenant farming legislation. I have already made clear that it would be inconceivable for this review not to include consideration of absolute right to buy.

“Today I was pleased to clarify, for the avoidance of any doubt, that consideration of absolute right to buy will be restricted to secure 1991 Act agricultural tenancies which can be passed down through families for generations.

“I also confirmed the review of Agricultural Holdings legislation will be a Ministerial-led, rather than external, review. I will soon be making an announcement on the remit of the review, the appointment of review group members and the timetable involved.

“Many tenant farmers have made the case that current tenure arrangements stifle on-farm investment. Given the current land reform debate in rural Scotland we need to consider what is in the best interest of rural communities and the role individual land ownership plays in this. Landlords’ views must also be heard.

“It is also important that we give all tenant farmers and stakeholders the opportunity to enter into full and frank dialogue about absolute right to buy.”

 

(1) (Col 4188 Scottish Parliament Rural Development Committee Official Report 4 Feb 2003

(2) Cited in David Torrance, Noel Skelton and the Property-Owning Democracy, Biteback, 2010. pg 208.

(3) Tenanted Agricultural Land in Scotland 2012. Scottish Government, 12 June 2013.

223 Comments

  1. Well, apart from the extremely minimal discussion on the extent of Norwegian land tenancies this article is as usual very stimulating and pertinent to the current debate! The comments on the extent of leasing by owner-occupiers to other owner occupiers in Continental and Scandinavian countries are most telling indeed and leads back to the lack of extensive owner-occupation tenure in Scotland that is the base of the problem. More tenants might be desirable, but the need for more owners is even more apparent.

    Reply

    • Yes – I do realise I am not actually answering the question posed by the title! The answer is of course to do with growing amalgamation of holdings in Norway, a topic that has caused concern and is subject of a major report to the Storting.

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      • Well Andy, even when I went to Rogaland in 1984, the Norwegians were not entirely happy with their situation, but I never met any who wanted to swop it for ours! dInteresting lessons for us no doubt and I wonder if the Storting will ignore the report in the way the SNP ignored their Land Commission report!?

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  2. Tenant farmers should already own the greater share of their holdings, since they have created the value of land and buildings through their own hard work and capital.
    Landlord theft of these improvements can only be stopped by Absolute Right To Buy at the tenanted value.

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    • Hector
      The absolute right to buy is the enforced sale of one individual’s property to another. It is not the solution to the tenant recovering investment in the holding. Improvements are carried out in the anticipation that they will enhance the productive capacity of the farm. The tenant benefits from the increased output (not the landlord) and no doubt makes a business decision on expenditure with that aim. He is also entitled to compensation on waygo for qualifying improvements under comprehensive statutory provisions. The landlord cannot charge rent on improvements. Stuart

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  3. Land tenure arrangements across Europe are complex http://www.fao.org/sd/ltdirect/ltre0007.htm but letting is often associated with intra family arrangements associated with complex and bureaucratic land ownership and inheritance arrangements. The UK has a relatively open system which the report suggests provides some more scope for new entrants. That however remains, as elsewhere hampered by capital, the CAP and competition for land. So I think it is questionable that increasing owner occupation would increase letting in Scotland given that so many other things differ from the countries used as comparison. It’s also highly questionable that the new owners would then get a taste for letting. Owner farmers aren’t at present – they use other contract routes – so it’s very hard to see them doing so after the upheaval of ARTB other than perhaps on a very short term basis to minimise risk.

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  4. Andy
    I stand by the comments I made 10 years ago they have been repeated ad nauseam because they are fact and have been proved so. Every time artb comes to the for nobody lets land even owner occupiers

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    • But the comment you made 10 years ago was an assertion as to the consequences of the introduction of ARTB. This has not yet come to pass so how can you say that it is fact and proven? It is speculation – nothing wrong with that but when one assembles the evidence of what happens in countries with high levels of owner-occupied farms, such speculation turns out to be implausible.

      Now your last sentence is assertion 1 and I don’t dispute that in practice this has happened. I saw a LDT advertised then withdrawn after Richard Lochhead made his recent comments. My point is that there are no rational grounds for behaving in such a way and those who do are indulging in little more that political posturing.

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  5. Stuart Young,
    you obviously haven’t gone through a rent review! Legally, the land lord cannot claim rent on tenants improvements, but sadly it happens all the time. I got shafted just last year, verbally the factor demanded more rent based on a tenant improvement, i had no choice when threatened with the land court. This will never change “the black art”

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    • If you believe that a rent proposal is inappropriate then take advice and if that confirms your view then you needn’t agree. I know of no land court cases which have centred on a rent dispute related to improvements. It would not be worth it for either party. If you feel the “factor” is not behaving professionally then contact the RICS. I further commend the various TFF guides on the matter.

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  6. Stuart Young, ARTB is not the forced sale of “one individuals property to another”.
    How can a single tenanted farm on an estate of 10,000 acres be considered the private property of the landlord? Especially when the said estate does not actually belong to anyone, but is owned by a company registered in the cayman islands?
    Chances are the ” landlord ” doesnt even know half the farms he ” owns.”
    Conversley, The law on tenants improvements actually is the enforced sale of a tenants investments to the landlord for very little or nothing.
    The law supposedly protecting tenants is so full of holes it is a landlords charter to rip tenants off, of money they can ill afford to lose.
    You lairds must laugh all the way to the leeds when you obtain a building at waygo for a measly £10,000 when you know full well it would cost £100k to replace. But thats how the lairds got wealthy isnt it? On the backs of generations of stolen tenants improvements.

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    • Compensation arrangements for improvements are clearly addressed in the Ag Holdings Acts improved in 2003 with abolition of write down agreements. Valuation is also prescribed as value to incoming tenant. A steading costing £100k to replace may not be worth that if its already 30 yrs old. Your language is colourful but I think distorts the truth. As for landlord ism is it scale that’s the problem? A farmer testing his only farm will be a landlord. As the large estates don’t own the majority of let farms it suggests there are lots of small landlords already. Should their larger neighbour, who might be their tenant, get to buy the farm? This is a lot more complex than big guy little guy.

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  7. land lords are showing their deep rooted ignorance when they claim that ARTB will destroy the tenanted sector. What it will destroy is Landlorisim, something that is not needed for there to be a tenanted sector. The lairds also know fine that it will only affect secure tenants, but they never acknowledge it, pretending that it is too risky to give out an LDT. The evidence is clear across the whole of Europe, tenanted land can flourish but only when local people take control of ownership. Yet to hear a constructive argument against ARTB, only scare tactics, which have been proven false. Our tenanted sector is completely broken and the lairds want to keep it just that way.

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  8. About 40% of the land in Northern Ireland is let out on an 11 month let, or conacre. This too is a system where owner occupiers rent to other owner occupiers. While the potential for incoming grazers/ growers to acheive tenant rights is there, in reality, I dont think I have ever heard of a single case. It simply is’nt in the culture any more. Owners know to look out for it, agents are wise to it, and nobody tries it on really.

    Interestingly, I have never heard anyone taking land in N Ireland being refrred to as a “tenant”. It is not a word that is in the rural culture any more. Perhaps it was regarded as derogatory at some point. I know a lot of farmers in NI almost look down on tenant farmers in England or Scotland. They didnt accept their lot being tenants, and they are suspicious of those who did not push for the same rights at the same time, rightly or wrongly.

    With ARTB in Scotland, I think the whole culture of that would still remain for a generation, and all the suspicions and hostility would probably remain. The children of current farmers/ landowners would look at things differently, but there would be a period of transition where difficulties would still remain, simply because the inter=personal relationships would be soured in many areas, and that would be damaging. However, there would be occasions where the opposite might happen too. Again, in NI, the tenants who bought out their farms in the 1920’s were quite happy to continue to allow fox hunting over their land… because that was a social thing, and members of their community relied on it for work. But their children had no such ties, and then quickly ended the practice.

    So, I think there would be a period of transition. Some people would look to quickly deal with any potential for conflict, others would use the oportunity to assert their new status in ways they were never able to before.

    The other big difference in NI was that the entire landlord class was taken out in a very short period of time. That would not be the case in Scotland. Most would remain because they have at least some in hand farming, forestry or other land assets. So, instead of all landholders across the country sharing an experience of empowerment… some will feel they have gained, and others will feel they have lost. The social dynamic of that would be completely different.

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    • Mention of Northern Ireland is of real relevance in relation to this debate. It’s the one part of the United Kingdom where large estates and landlords of the traditional type were largely done away with by legislative means. The process was a cumulative one, starting in the 1870s and 1880s with rights, first, to compensation for improvement and, second, security of tenure – the key security of tenure measure being the Irish Land Act of 1881. The Crofters Act of 1886, which gave crofters in the Highlands and Islands security of tenure was modelled on the 1881 Act at the insistence of the Highland Land League who’d organised mass protest in the shape particularly of rent strikes. Although there were demands from Scottish farmers (especially in Aberdeenshire and other parts of the North-East) for similar concessions, these were not forthcoming – landlords having, in effect, done a deal with government whereby they’d concede the crofting case as long as they were left in sole charge elsewhere. As a result, Scottish tenant farmers had to wait until the 1940s to get security of tenure – and even then it was not nearly so absolute as the security obtained by crofters 60 years before. In Ireland, all of it then in the UK of course, security of tenure proved merely a stepping stone on the way to wholesale owner-occupation. A series of measures intended to facilitate owner-occupation culminated in the so-called Wyndham Act of 1903 which had the effect of giving practically every tenant in Ireland an absolute right to buy – with government cash being advanced by way of 50-year or even 68-year loans to enable farmers to proceed to ownership. The Wyndham Act, one of the most important pieces of legislation ever to affect Ireland, was – interestingly enough – taken through the Westminster Parliament by a Conservative Govt, Wyndham being that govt’s secretary of state, as it were, for Ireland. Thanks to the Act – which had the backing of Protestant/Unionist farmers every bit as much as Catholic/Nationalist farmers – Ireland, north and south of the present-day border, is a land of owner-occupying farmers who, as pointed out here, now let land to each other on a regular basis and who, from what’s said here, don’t even use the term tenant – that term, no doubt, being far too redolent of the bad old days of landlordism. In an article in the Scottish Farmer back in June, I argued that it was high time that Richard Lochhead came forward with a Lochhead Act which would do for Scottish tenant farmers what the Wyndham Act did long ago for their Irish counterparts by giving Scottish tenants an absolute right to buy. This was predictably attacked as a rubbish notion by Scottish Land and Estates. However, shortly after – though I stress I claim no credit for this – Mr Lochhead announced at the Highland Show that his forthcoming Holdings Review will look seriously at the possibility of an absolute right to buy. Where Ireland, Wyndham and the Tories led 110 years ago, maybe Scotland, Lochhead and the SNP will at last follow. My Scottish Farmer article can be found here http://www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk/news/land-reform-lets-have-the-lochhead-act.21330968 The article, incidentally, also floats the notion, as Andy mentions above, that, subsequent to an absolute right to buy, farmer-to-farmer letting of land should be on a free contract basis.

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      • Jim – I’m curious why greater freedom of contract ok after ARTB but not now. I imagine there will still be a surplus of demand over supply so one would imagine large demand impacting on terms agreed.

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      • I was introduced to him at a meeting on SNP environmental policy at a hotel in Perth, when I had taken some time off the rocky road to the Loch Garry Tree Group, Scottish Native Woods, Highland Forum and New Caledonia. He was on a tarmacked dual carriageway to a career. I used my diminutive in the introduction and he pointedly did not.
        Your diminutive and mine has something to do with our full name. I understand now why he does not use his, as it may be confused with a character reference.

        You ponder a Lochhead Act based on the Wyndham Act. I expect an actiivity like his diminutive. I don’t think I am alone in this.

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  9. “Large estates dont own the majority of let farms” ,Pull the other one.!
    You know full well that the 2003 act is not working as intended on improvements , or anything else for that matter.
    Write down agreements which have matured are still valid so i am told, so a 30 yr old building written down over 15 yrs up to 1998 will attract no compensation today even though it has 30+ years of life left and a huge replacement cost.
    Also, a tenant who built a steading before 1883 can get nothing for it, even though it may have considerable value for various uses.
    A lot of drainage work had to be carried out last autumn in a hurry, there was no time to wait 3 months for the factors notice, so no compensation would be paid for that either.
    Need i go on?

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    • I expect we won’t agree but I’ve tried totting up the tenancies held by the big estates and its a fraction of the 6500. As noted above compensation is based on value to an incoming tenant not replacement cost. If your shed is already 30 yrs old it clearly has less value than a brand new one. I do agree there are different legal opinions on some WDAs. As for drainage if it was a repair then its the tenants responsibility if beyond repair or new then needs notice to landlord only. Be surprised if landlord objected. TFF working on quick dispute resolution mechanism to speed things up in event are disputes. I think we agreed in TFF pre 1883 improvements weren’t too much of a concern!

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  10. Really!!!
    Has a 30 year old shed less value than a brand new one? Do me a favour.
    The value may be less, which is clear, but it is not zero as the legislation says if the write down period is over.
    Notice to landlord only? Yes but 3 months it must be, or no compensation is payable. Read the act, as turcan connell do and they apply it to the letter at waygo.
    As to pre 1883 improvements, supposing there are only 3 such cases in scotland, why should the landlord get the benefit of some one elses work?
    3 people ripped off is 3 too many.
    The irish land act of 1873 turned the law on its head and demanded that landlords produce proof of carrying out an improvement if they wished to save paying compensation. All improvements then became property of the tenant and unrentable even if carried out under a father or grandfathers lease.
    Its high time we had that law.

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  11. Thank you Andy, this is precisely the kind of data we need to finally put an end to the misinformed rhetoric that SLaE and it’s cohorts dish out to us. It’s precisely the data that Richard Lochhead needs to examine during the forthcoming Agricultural Holdings Review. I have long believed that the Right to buy for tenant farmers would enhance the tenanted sector and therefore augment the Scottish agricultural industry, so why does the NFU fail to support the RTB for tenants? Why does the STFA choose to stand quiet on this issue, neither supporting or disapproving of it in public? Surely at last these graphs will give both NFU and STFA the evidence they need to finally support tenant farmers in their quest for the Right to buy the farms they have worked on for generations, and to put Scottish agriculture and social justice ahead of their organisations’ agenda.
    It will be interesting to watch how both NFU and STFA respond to these statistics.
    It has always been argued by tenant farmers that given the power to unlock the potential of their farms they would flourish, and surely we must all agree with that.
    Systematically we are dismantling every argument the lairds are putting forward. Firstly it was the NEED, then it was ECHR (Thanks to Prof Alan Miller that backfired on them didn’t it !) Now it’s the “DECIMATION” of the tenanted sector that they cry …..One by one it’s all been proved wrong.
    How much longer do we have to put up with their nonsense? How much longer is Scotland to be held back in the dark ages of it’s land tenure system? Radical Land Reform Now.

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    • yes, and I used to think the SNP would engage with radical land reform, but it has just kicked it into the long grass time after time—-they can’t even handle a national park being owned by the nation—so more complex issues!?

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    • It may be that NFUS and STFA haven’t supported a call for ARTB because their members don’t support it. Evidence to date would suggest that to be the case. I agree that Andy’s data is interesting but I don’t believe the conclusion drawn, that letting would flourish post ARTB, is supported by European evidence. Current letting in many European countries appears to be within families managing inheritance and transition not to third party farmers. That reflects their land ownership and inheritance structures perhaps more than farming needs. To conclude therefore that you’d get lots of letting in Scotland post ARTB is an opinion only. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that ARTB would increase farm aggregation (some tenants would buy and flip), increase the number of large farm businesses and reduce opportunity for those outside farming. Finally, and I heard it so many times, there is nothing “Dark Ages” about our land tenure system. The FAO report makes clear it is much more open than many European systems and as separation of ownership and use is common to many other property types and assets I don’t see why agriculture should be be considered so different. It’s interesting that Andy’s suggesting a new landlord ism will flourish. So is it landlords you don’t like or just the current lot?! If the latter what makes you think the next lot would be any better?

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      • To address AH’s comments;
        We can all interpret the stats as we choose, as you have clearly done. The fact remains that Europe is away ahead of Scotland as far as Land Reform goes. We should look to those countries that can offer us a solution……Norway ?? To go on and on about finding solutions to the bad practices that has been going on on Estates for centuries is tinkering with the symptoms. Lets forget about trying to solve the symptoms and cure the disease…that is that Scotland has a pattern of land ownership that is too concentrated, and that tenant farmers are dis-empowered .
        Our First minister said in his speech last week “We need to release the potential of Scotland ” right then, lets get on with it.
        Suggesting that the TFF offers a solution is laughable, it’s achievements reads like an anti tenant’s hand book .
        Without a doubt this new blog of Andy’s has given us the stats we need to carry our fight forward for social and economic justice for Scotland. Nae Laird Required.

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  12. What is this fascination with the tenanted sector?
    The sector is dead and needs a decent burial which ARTB will provide.
    Andrew Howrd claims that post ARTB farms will be amalgamated and tenants will leave, but excuse me, is that not just what estates do presently?
    Rent rack, evict, and amalgamate?
    The difference will be that tenants will have the choice of what to do, something even tories love, and will act accordingly.
    And your silence on improvements is noted.

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    • Hector
      The fascination comes from the very importance of the flexibility and opportunity it gives to Scottish agriculture. It’s far from dead though it could do with an injection of vitality which the current debate is not doing. To characterise the current situation as rack rent, evict and amalgamate is not what I see. Rent assessment is prescribed by the act, evictions must be as rare as hens teeth if the tenant pays the rent and amalgamations are either a result of agricultural economics or to the benefit of other tenants who have often been the beneficiaries. You’re correct existing tenants will have a choice – buy and keep, buy and sell or stay as is. What about the choice of prospective tenants? Improvements – agreed 3 months notice but Landlord only has one month to object so you should know position pretty quickly. TFF hopes quicker dispute resolution will also extend to this area. And perhaps review what notifiable? As you might expect not supportive of your Irish plan not least how do you distinguish between an improvement and original fixed equipment. What is important is for both sides to keep records and talk – and before the response comes – that cuts both ways. Last shot – basing law on bad cases makes bad law. We should try to work out how to deal with the minority of relationships not working rather than blow the system asunder to address them.

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      • Andrew, it seems to me the tenanted sector gives flexibility to our minority of large scale landowners, the opportunity it gives them to benefit from the labours and investments of tenants and the lack of opportunity it gives to those who seek to develop lifelong home and livelihood in the countryside free from stricture and domination of another.
        NFUS, the least democratic representative organisation I know of, does not support ARTB any more than SLE does, and, as they are virtually one and the same, why would they?
        Curiously, STFA have a reluctance to realise that the tenanted sector is there at the behest of landowners, not practical farmers who would invariably prefer owner occupation given a chance. Certainly makes me wonder who calls the shots at STFA
        Interestingly, since STAG, whose focus is entirely on ARTB, came on the horizon two months ago, apart from myself who saw the light many years ago, every supporter is a member of STFA, including no less than seven, current or past directors. In fact all who have commented on this state that they only joined STFA in the first place to help put ARTB in place and bring the demise of large estates. So who does ultimately control STFA?

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        • Tom
          Two points:
          1) A tenanted sector provides opportunity to farmers (whether new entrants or existing businesses) without a need for capital to buy land.
          2) ARTB will impact on every landlord regardless of size. Some may have only one tenant farming all the agricultural land they own.
          Stuart

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          • Stuart
            the ARTB is only proposed for secure tenants, so if an owner gave out a secure tenancy to a tenant on their entire land holding one would conclude that they were no longer interested in farming but were interested in collecting rent. SO, they should keep their business hat on and accept the payment for their farm which would cover them financially and beyond without the burden of liabilities.

        • Tom
          I think the benefits of the let sector are far from restricted to the landlord. It allows a tenant the opportunity to benefit from farming without having had to commit the huge investment required to buy a farm. This is, and almost always is a mutually beneficial relationship with two parties who both have a long attachment to that property. The common inference of indifferent landlords is in not, in my view fair. I accept some relationships don’t work – perhaps not surprising in 6500 relationships. We should try to do what we can to help on that front but that absolutely does not require that you damage the majority of very good ones.

          Clearly I can’t speak for STFA but perhaps the answer rests in that when asked most of their members did not appear to favour ARTB.

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          • Andrew, huge investment relates to the high value of land due to lack of its availability and appropriate fiscal measures appropriate to control its availability.
            I fail to see why ARTB will damage good relationships. Far from damaging the majority which you say are good relationships, ARTB will ensure that all relationships become good ones among equals.

      • The only opportunity it gives is for lairds to swell their wallets.

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        • Hector
          I think buying a farm at 50-60% of market value and being able to sell it straight on for 100% will swell a few wallets as well.

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  13. Prospective tenants would be better off emigrating than signing up to a short term rent rack LDT tenancy in scotland. end of.
    So you now admiit that i am right, 3 months notice is required for all improvements, and if you start work before the 3 months, you are toast at waygo.
    My last notice of improvement took 8 months for a reply, by which time the opportunity to carry it out had passed.
    Tenants improvements must be carried out when the situation demands it and when cash flow, labour and ground conditions suit, not to mention availability of diggers etc.
    That is where the 3 month notice system fails, and we know it is designed that way to trap the unwary.
    The irish system of improvement law should be adopted immediately, and respectable landlords have nothing to fear from it.
    Its only the money grubbing sheisters who need to look out.

    Reply

    • Hector
      I can’t recall saying you we’re wrong. The landlord has a month to object. If they don’t, or are unsuccessful, the improvement qualifies. Perhaps a lawyer out there would confirm or otherwise.

      Reply

      • It’s 3 months notice but if the landlord doesn’t object within 1 month, then the tenant can go ahead. So in practice the tenant has to plan 3 months ahead although that can be accelerated if the landlord doesn’t object.

        Hector did not need to wait 8 months for a reply although you did raise an interesting point earlier about an emergency situation where there may be ambiguity about whether what you’re doing is maintenance/repair or improvement and you don’t have the luxury of 3 months prior notice to be sure. There may be an argument for “unless it was not practical” (or similar) to be added to the legislation.

        The law may have flaws which need to be reviewed in light of practical experience but it is NEVER “designed to trap the unwary”.

        Reply

        • If it is not designed to trap the unwary, why are thousands of the unwary trapped by the legislation and left well short of proper compensation?

          Reply

  14. Why should the improvement have to “qualify ” at all?
    Who has got time for all that boll**** when time is money?
    Its ok for you to pontificate on your telephone number salary defending the indefensible.

    Reply

    • Hector
      I don’t think lobbing personal comments helps when I’m trying to participate in a discussion not an industry wide slanging match.
      The reason some improvements should require notice or in some cases permission is that they may effect a major change to the nature of the farm. Granted, unlikely with drainage but with some specialist equipment that may be the case. However it may well be worth reviewing what needs notice etc and how to minimise delays/ friction.

      Reply

      • Totally agree with your last sentence there Andrew.

        I am absolutely convinced the reason there’s such acrimony between some landlords and some of their tenants is that very out of date laws have boxed them into corners neither of them want to be in. What I said in 2003 and will say again in 2013 is that LDTs/SLDTs just created a new set of boxes. Why couldn’t we have been as grown up as the English and introduced Farm Business Tenancies? Comparing us unfavourably with England will upset the “love to be offended” brigade but freedom of contract is the answer and, so long as it doesn’t deprive anyone of their existing rights, it can’t come soon enough.

        Reply

  15. VictorianSqualour

    One would assume that the quality of life is better for the Norwegian farmers in contrast to the conditions some tenanted families have to endure in this country.
    How is it possible to improve a ramshackle home, repair antiquated farm buildings which were designed for carts when the tenant is pouring money to his agricultural lawyer in an attempt to force the landowner into fulfilling his side of the tenancy?

    How many tenants have had their human rights violated? How have the problems generated through unscrupulous landowners have had an adverse effect on the health and wellbeing of the tenant and their families?
    How many tenants wish to bequeath the farm to a sibling or step-child yet are forbidden from doing so by the current law? How many families have lost the farm which their families have farmed for generations due to the strangulating succession rules?

    The answer to so many of these questions could be found if the tenant farmer is given the right to buy his/her own farm using the principles (mentioned by Professor Hunter earlier) of the Wyndham Act 1903 plus further research into the Norwegian system which has had a positive result for Norwegian agriculture.

    These issues must be addressed as a matter of urgency as many tenants are very vulnerable despite the spin spouted by the SL&E etc. There are tenants who do wish the absolute right to buy their farms yet are being ignored by the STFA and NUFS, therefore many tenants cannot support these organisations and have no confidence in them.

    Radical change is some 200 years overdue and this time, we will not accept crumbs from the table. We wish the loaf, the table, the house plus the land where we grew the grain for the bread in the very ground we improved.

    Reply

    • Victorian Squalour
      Type in Land Abandonment Norway into google and you soon get the impression Norway is no farmers utopia despite high support levels. I was there 10 years ago – so a little while ago – and was surprised in the western fjord area to see quite a number of obviously un farmed farms. The local farmer who was our guide cited poor economics and difficulties in letting to third parties. Andy’s figures may suggest this has changed but farming was still tough.

      It’s interesting that comment from SLE is spin but the colourful language you and others have used is somehow exposing the facts. Well it’s not an industry I recognise. I’ve no doubt you can cite examples of poor landlord action but that could be countered by examples of tenants who have never repaired a thing – contrary to their obligations under the act. But that’s not the point. Neither case is the norm. They shouldn’t be ignored, and should be addressed, but you shouldn’t base your letting industry strategy on a few bad cases. That blatantly ignores the needs of the vast majority.

      Reply

      • Law must be based on the worst landlords, otherwise they escape scot free.
        In common law, murder is carried out by a minority of bad people, but the law doesnt say “ok, this is an isolated case, i am sure you wont do it again, run along now.”
        If bad landlords are dealt with, by ARTB, the rest will behave.

        Reply

        • Interesting. What you’re arguing for there hector is not across the board ARTB for all 1991 Act tenants, only for tenants of “bad” landlords.

          Is that what you’re saying or did I misunderstand your murder analogy?

          Reply

          • No neil, ARTB across the board, along with Irish land act simultaneously.
            Worst landlords will get bought out, bad landlords will sort themselves out., and other tenants may be happy to remain tenants under the improved conditions.

        • Hector
          Slightly different. Murder is an act you absolutely do not want carried out. Letting land is but is considered appropriate for some sort of statutory control. Two quite different policy responses therefore.

          Reply

          • your twisting what Hector said Andrew, he made his murder/law comparison to signify bad aggressive and destructive landlordisim, not simply letting land!

  16. Andrew Howard is trying to drag this into a tenancy debate. That is not what we are debating, we are debating why the lairds will not take heed of the facts which are on offer, HARD FACTS, CLEAR STATS. if Scotland had its ARTB it might not follow the exact same pattern but we have only the evidence to go by. So where is the argument against the facts?? we all know they hate ARTB and hate tenant empowerment. So the only conclusion is, that they just cant fight the stats/evidence. It is just plain stupid to suggest that tenant land will dry up if there is a threat of ARTB. firstly because it didnt increase the tenanted land the last time ARTB was off the table. 2nd the lairds are pretending that they might want to give out more secure tenancies HILARIOUS!!!!!!
    Then… it gets even more crazy, they say that if ARTB was introduced, then it will reduce the amount of land available to let!!!! PLAIN STUPIDITY. less land for lairds to let yes, but not less land for the rest of us to let. Landlords and your henchmen, take heed, you do not have to be a privileged yahoo to let land.

    Reply

    • Slurry Stirrer
      The owner occupier farmers I have spoken to tell me that they would not use SLDTs/LDTs if they wanted to let for fear of ARTB applying at some point. There is a logic that a tenant who has exercised ARTB would be of like mind. It’s much of the reason why contract farming and grazing lets are so popular. Stuart

      Reply

    • I’m not sure it’s anybody’s debate to own so I guess it will go whichever way it goes. I’m unclear as to what the facts we’re missing are. Andy’s interesting blog makes certain assumptions and I’ve simply suggested that I don’t believe that the conclusion drawn is supported by the facts as presented. I accept that’s my opinion. Where I think the debate could helpfully go is what is best for Scottish agriculture and fulfilling whatever vision we have for that. A useful discussion could then be had about what tenure arrangements etc would best help deliver that.

      Turning to the other points confidence was slowly returning and LDTs were being created until the recent announcement. Ironically by the larger estates not the owner farmers who it’s anticipated will be the engine of letting in the future. And I can’t recall anyone suggesting new 1991 tenancies would be created. But with confidence restored you might well get longer LDTs to suit the circumstances.

      Reply

      • Andrew, where did you get stats that it is estates that have given out LDTs and not owner/occ??
        My area of scotland, it is three owner/occ that have let 10 year lets, while the 2 big estates have given out 364.
        Where did you get the stat? sounds like you have national data, can you post them up please?

        Reply

        • SLE did publish some data about 18 months ago following a survey of larger members. Don’t have to hand but should be able to get tomorrow. If it helps we have 7 LDTs the longest of which is 30 yrs. 1 new, 6 following LPs. And of course one large estate last year created a number, 8-10 I think, new lets from in hand last year.

          Reply

  17. Yes Stuart, you are right, but i would go further and say that owner occupier do not want to let on anything longer than 364, just to keep some control, i think that is fair enough. But what i dont think is fair and is actually detrimental is when large letting estates are try to play the 364 hand. 364 lets, or say freedom of contract will only be good for rural scotland when the land is covered in owner occupiers. that way rental stays local so to does knowledge of the land. And then the ladder of opportunity is developed, ownership! start with a small farm then move on. To simply be in the letting game ie large letting estates simply syphons off too much money and hinders freedom and hope.
    (sorry for debating the advantages of ARTB but it is in direct reply to stuart)

    Reply

    • SS, good point but what about “large letting estates” where the owner does live local? Should they be exempted from ARTB on the basis that, in their case, the rental is staying local as is their knowledge of the land?

      Reply

      • Neil, fellow farmers had a meeting in my locality, about 14 of us, we debated this and the conclusion we all came to was that living locally had to mean living on the farm you own, if you let it out then you would not have to worry about ARTB. If however you lived ‘locally’ but not actually on the farm and let it out, then the tenant could go for ARTB. Basically the owner occupiers liked the idea of being able to let out and not come under the rules applicable to specifically letting estates.

        Reply

        • So what if the farmer has to move elsewhere for a period and lets the house as well for a year or two?

          Reply

          • Missed SS’s reply to my question which boils down to it’s not about living “locally” at all, it’s about twisting definitions round to arrive at the result you want.

            Presumably the meeting had to adopt a different definition of “local” in the context of spending the rent?

  18. It doesnt need a review of notice requirements, it just needs the irish land act implemented here.
    Simple.

    Reply

  19. Slurry Stirrer
    I referred to larger members in this instance because that’s who we surveyed in the interests of speed for that survey. Wider tenancy stats would clearly be helpful. SLE is there to represent all its members and we speak to as many of them as we can as often as we can to assess their concerns and what they want from us. I think if you’re a large landowner with a number of tenants or an owner farmer with aspirations to grow your business you have the same interest in the health of letting.

    What the stats from larger estates showed was that they continued to let a large % of their land – obviously depended whether they farmed themselves. They were also using the 2003 Act vehicles and other stats indicate they were increasing in number. I would content that larger landlords have little capacity to increase letting as its let already. Growth would have to come from smaller estates or owner farmers. Anecdotally they appear very averse to letting for reasons rehearsed by others. Clearly they’re not buying the 1991/LDT distinction which others suggest should leave them with nothing to fear. Clearly no actual data, that I know of on this, but I’ve been involved in this since before 2003 and I see no evidence of LDT take up of note from the owner farmer sector.

    Reply

  20. Andrew, perhaps that is why Prof Hunter and Andy have been advocating freedom of contract after the implementation of ARTB. the new movement STAG also adopts this vision as do around 50% of STFA members. So hopefully the combination of putting the ARTB safely to bed and the greater flexability of freedom of contract(which the big lairds have been asking for) will allow confidence to grow in the area of letting land.

    Reply

    • What I’m still not clear about is why FoC should wait until after ARTB.
      Anyway Andy has very efficiently posted the SLE tenancy data. I think it speaks for itself but happy to comment if you would like. TFF and Scot Gov both looking at getting a more complete data set so we’re all working with better facts rather than extrapolation and best guesses.

      Reply

      • the reason FOC would not work now Andrew is quite simply because of the mind set of the Privileged laird. CHURN! maximum CHURN. You will not come anywhere close to the relationship that local farmer types can build and foster together. When locals are in control, then FOC will work.

        Reply

        • Slurry Stirrer
          I think churn is being misinterpreted a bit. And I agree not a pretty word. Pre 2003 we used to see tenancies come to a natural end – retirement etc, not forced by the landlord who was in no position to. This created opportunities usually it should be said to amalgamate with existing tenancies. Any current businesses benefited from hat. It was not the case that landlords routinely terminated tenancies just to let it to someone else on a higher rent. That would be highly disruptive for the landlord as well as the tenant. Post 2003 – I postulate – that the possibility of ARTB at some point, combined with de-coupling- caused that process of change to grind to a halt. Incidentally the owned sector is the same – perhaps highlighting the importance of the CAP in decision making.
          Worth pointing out that in our case we also farm and we’re all local – owner and all. So I guess we’re local farmer types!

          Reply

  21. I dont think FOC can be introduced for a long time, till after the last tenant has bought his farm and feudalism is wiped out.
    Landlordism needs to be removed from all aspects of society, it is a gnawing cancer.

    Reply

  22. Andrew

    But the Scottish Landowners Federation led us to believe , before 2003 , that with the introduction of Short Duration Tenancies there would be a large amount of land available on the market to let . Where is it ?? .
    Or was there any there in the first place ?? .
    If F O C does get introduced , what is next on the wish list of landlords if there is no more land being made available for rent ? . I bet you propose getting rid of secure tenants from their farms which have been in their family for generations . But then you will then have achieved what landlords have craved for since 1947 . And you will be able to use the landlord’s favourite , but horrible word ‘ CHURN ‘ when farming tenants become nomads in their own country of Scotland .

    Game over .

    Reply

  23. Well said Gentle Dove . 100% agree

    Reply

  24. Gentle Dove
    I don’t know whether SLF said a large amount of ground but the evidence from England and Wales was that providing flexibility would increase the amount of land to let by making it more attractive vis a vis other options http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefingsAndFactsheets/S4/SB_12-02(2).pdf
    The report posted by Andy above deals with some of the issues around where the land might come from but it would likely be a mix of change of tenure – in-hand to let – or owner farmers letting for a period because they did not wish to farm for a given period of time. As E & W share the same fiscal, and at that time same CAP, regime the assumption was fair. What of course happened was a fractious debate over ARTB which undermined confidence in government intentions. This must have dented take up. The Scottish Governments statement in, I think 2010, about ARTB was helpful and the stats do show a steady take up of the new vehicles. However a combination of CAP reforms and political uncertainty over ARTB continues to undermine the sector. The SPICE report linked above shows a steady situation south of the border in terms of tenanted land. Given that the fiscal regime is the same and the CAP and tenancy frameworks aren’t so wildly different which the inexorable decline here. The political issue has to be prime suspect.
    I cannot recall SLF, now SLE, calling for “getting rid” of 1991 Act tenancies and are not doing so now. They will decline over time as farmers retire which is part of the normal course of things. that should present opportunities for new tenancies, IF, we can lose this fixation with ARTB and start focussing on what the needs of the agricultural industry are. I believe tenancies play a vital part in the industry for existing and new businesses – which seems to be recognised by others. so we should not let the agricultural industry get side tracked by a desire to break up large landholdings – many of which by the way have few if any farm tenants anyway because of the nature of the land.
    So not “game over”. The start of, I hope, a rather more mature debate than was held 10 years ago and which did so much damage.

    Reply

  25. Andrew

    So why did National Farmers Union of Scotland give in to demands from S L F for change to less secure types of tenancy . The reason was that S L F claimed there would be a lot more land made available for let . That WAS the reason . This has not happened . As for A R T B . This only concerns secure farm tenants whose families have farmed the same farm for generations . Your interpretation or understanding that 2003 Act Tenancies qualify for R T B are mistaken , perhaps even mischievous . Red herrings come to mind !!!! .

    Reply

    • I wasn’t involved in the discussions between SLF and NFUS at the time but I understand they were reacting to an industry that wouldn’t use secure tenancies and were looking for alternatives. Yes, it was landlords who wouldn’t use secure tenants. The reason why a obvious. A fundamental tenet of any lease is a term. Secure tenancies didn’t have one. If the tenant kept producing heirs then the owner of the farm had lost all control of the property. Clearly not attractive. No other property asset that I can think of was treated as such.
      Can we please bear in mind that the owner has also managed and been intimately involved with the land in question for what is often many years. Contrary to popular perception their predecessors would have created the farm, built the house, buildings etc. Not all tenancies have been going for generations – so were even created inadvertently.
      I have not said that ARTB would apply to LDTs BUT Ag Holdings legislation over the years has suffered a good deal of political interference and retrospective legislation. So what chance calls for ARTB from tenants facing the end of their LDT in 10 or 15 years. If you undermine property rights the impact on decision making is pernicious in its impact. Every one wants long term decision making yet seem hell bent on creating exactly the opposite conditions.
      So no red herrings – just trying to explain why things aren’t working.

      Reply

  26. Well said Gentle dove, that detestable word churn says it all.
    Turn the tenants over at regular intervals, cream off the fat and leave them skint with the de energised buttermilk.

    Reply

    • Tom
      A well worked analogy but not a fair representation. The law prevents it and its not in the landlords interest to create the kind of unstable environment you suggest. We want successful relationships which mean well farmed farms and both parties able to invest for the long term. I’ve no doubt you’ll raise a sceptical eyebrow but that’s what most relationships are like – but I accept that doesn’t make for such good headlines.

      Reply

      • Andrew, Not when the factor keeps his argument verbal, then you have nothing to base an appeal on. Please believe me us tenants are scared stiff of dispute channels.
        You can say it again and again, the false statement about good relations, but we just don’t feel that you are being truthful.
        Maybe you could be the first of the ‘Big Laird’ reps to come out and say what exactly it is that will be bad for these Estates if there is an ARTB. Please forget about the angle that tenants don’t want it, we know what we want. please forget about unjustified and proven incorrect statements about tenancy rates. Please give us an insight into the personal difficulties that the Big Lairds have with ARTB. You know how these Big Estates work, give us a balanced debate, tell us what impact it will have. Just please dont tell us that there will be less let land, nobody is going to take the land away. Come on Andrew give us the Estates story, not just how us locals would mess it all up.

        Reply

  27. Andrew Howard. Have you read a paper by Dr Reginald Melton? He explains clearly the pressures that secure tenants face. Pressures which are unacceptable, landlords want control of their land. This enables them to open up fresh rent negotiations but more importantly access to subsidies. I agree with you that we need to get the best for our industry, and right now we have secure tenants facing terrible pressure and being pushed to the limits of their emotional capabilities, we collectively; STAG, STFA, NFU, SLAE & GOV have to seriously consider granting an opportunity for secure tenants and the old style partnerships to buy themselves away from a system which is harmful. Now, it is worth noting that not all secure tenants will buy, and those that remain tenants will experience a more even balance of influence when working with their landlord. The provision of ARTB will in turn encourage landlords to understand tenants better. If landlords, SLAE and perhaps NFU would consider giving a little on this topic it may well ease the pain later on down the road, because if there is not some radical change on ARTB then an extremely aggressive form of taxation could be on the table. Lets find a bit more balance, the continued defense of the large landed estates is wearing thin and the voting public are becoming increasingly aware.

    Reply

    • Slurry Stirrer
      Yes I have read it and I’m pretty sure I recognise two of the anonymous cases presented. I could of course have incorrectly identified the subjects, but I don’t think so, and the circumstances as set out by Dr Melton are rather more complex than as set out. I have looked into a number of disputes, sometimes when requested to by STFA and in one of Dr Meltons cases by NFUS and the circumstances are rarely straightforward. And it is rarely one side beating up on the other. There is often years of history bubbling up into a particular dispute.
      Some of these cases are obviously personal tragedies for both sides but they are the minority and when people are involved will always exist. But as I said above bad cases make bad law.
      Finally I’m not quite sure why tenants are considered to be in such a weak legal or negotiating position at present, particularly in the context of a 1991 tenancy. They have a very robust legal framework regulating the sector and in the past decade faced landlords treating on eggshells to avoid dispute in a generally hostile political environment.

      Reply

  28. The Lairds and their lachies have really lost the plot. They refuse to accept data and figures that they don’t like. I’ve just heard Doug McAdam claiming that ” if you check with NFUS I’m sure they will tell you their survey was corrupted as it was not secure & so it has been deleted.”
    Well, yes, he is partly correct, the NFU will tell you it was corrupted, but I believe it is the paper copy they are referring to. That paper survey came out in favour of the ARTB and was a tiny sample. The huge online survey was made completely secure, with a block on all computers to make sure only one entry per computer was recorded, and only one IP address used for each entry. I checked this with the survey company. So for McAdam to say it was corrupted and subsequently deleted is disrespectful of the members of the NFU. Where is the hard evidence to back this claim up. I am a member of the NFU and I am completely unaware that a survey had been deleted that I took part in. This is serious, where is this corruption that he is talking about ?

    Reply

    • Hebridean Farmer
      I speak as a lachie – why the need for derogatory descriptives I don’t know. I don’t agree with some contributors to this debate but I respect their perfect right to their view. My views are sincerely held as an individual. I don’t need to be told to expound them by anybody – employer or otherwise.
      Doug McAdam reported as the STFA had done. I also understood that NFUS (also a member) had experienced difficulties with their survey. I guess they can expand on that if they wish.
      One other group of tenants who’s view should be heard are those that wish to be tenants and get on the farming ladder. At NFUSs excellent 2020 conference their view seemed quite clear. Less political interference and let us have our chance. It’s hard as it is they’ll be harder pushed if they have to buy to get in.

      Reply

      • They wish to be tenants only because land is over priced, monopolised by a few, untaxed and subsidised to advantage of land speculators.
        New entrants would undoubtedly prefer, like every other farmer given a chance, to own their farm free from landlords. This chance will come when fiscal measures remove the inflated speculative value of land and subsidy is directed at those most in need of it.

        Reply

  29. Andrew, the weak or non weak legal position of tenants is not really the debate, sorting it out and making either party stronger and loading up with regulation will solve nothing. What we need is simple regulations, regulations which can be executed simply. Wouldn’t it be great if a few more people could become owners and letters of land? A wee bit unfair to say that buying will be the only way into farming, you are really turning a blind eye to all the tenancy stats that are out there.

    Reply

    • Hear hear to simpler regulation. Would probably reduce the friction as well as it would all be easier to understand.
      In fact every year the number of owners grows as tenants buy their farms by agreement. To go back to Andy’s original point – will they let? My case is that there’s zero evidence of them doing so and I don’t accept you can compare Norway with its own circumstances and conclude that that will mean letting will occur here.
      Argue for ARTB, as is your right, but lets be frank and say that’ll be the end of tenancies as we know them in a generation. What retiring farmer wouldn’t buy and flip. Be daft not to. It’ll be short term lets (conacre?) or contract on a year to year.

      Reply

  30. Oh how you factors love the new entrants.
    Goggle eyed youths willing to sell their future and soul to the devil to get some land to farm.
    And you are ready to oblige, with a rack rent, a run down farm and a pre printed eviction notice for 15 yrs hence.
    They need to be protected from the likes of you, till they are old enough and wise enough to know better.
    There is absolutely no point in a young man putting the prime of his life into a 15 yr deal,.
    What options does he have aged fifty when the laird has stolen his improvements and wants him out?
    That 2020 conference was the biggest load of bull and a total setup.
    If i was an nfu member i would resign.

    Reply

  31. When are we going to have a SLAE rep telling us why specifically the ownership of massive estates is the best way forward for Scotland. Come on Andrew, Daye, Bruce woot, Dougie, what are the specific details and special qualities about the Big Laird that is so much better than an owner occupier? Tell us their specific qualifications that need to be protected.
    Oh by the way if any Big Estate reps want a good sleep tonight then don’t read the Scottish Affairs Committee’s menu for topics of discussion.

    Reply

    • Slurry Stirrer
      Thats a big subject. I commend SLEs submission to the LRRG. That provides a clear statement of the contribution made by our members to the Scottish society, economy and environment. I for one would not suggest that an estate or an owner occupier is any better than the other. Each can deliver many benefits. Some things are achievable by a larger estate than a single farm owner couldn’t and vice versa. Estates, big and small, are part of a diverse mix of holdings across Scotland. Estates themselves are diversely owned from families, new and old, charities, to NGOs etc. Neither would I personally argue that if you broke up all estates that the world would end. However, that is not entirely the point. If you want to break them up you have to be very clear that material gains in the public interest would stem from that change. I for one have not seen that case. Much of the land reform debate appears to be about changing ownership as an end in itself rather than what outcomes in terms of socio-economic-environmental factors you want. The SLE submission makes clear that Estates do, and can continue to, play a role in the delivery of public policy objectives whether that be in housing, farming, environmental management, maintenance of the historic environment etc. that of course is with and alongside everyone else contributing to that. There are also positive suggestions in the response outlining how further benefits could be obtained, particularly in community engagement and participation which do not need the upheaval of ownership change to achieve that.
      Finally at a personal level the estate I work for employs about 40 people, and works with a lot more in local businesses, spends the vast majority if its money in local areas, reinvests all its profits in the estate, is owned by someone who is actively engaged and lives on the estate and in the last few years alone has invested millions in long term projects already bringing benefits to our areas. We have a good relationship with our tenants and continue to invest in our properties. Whats more our farm tenants appear to share that confidence having themselves invested heavily in their enterprises and successful diversifications – on 1991 and 2003 tenancies. We’re not perfect. Of course not. But I wonder why we should be destabilised, fragmentation possibly making integrated management difficult and ultimately the uncertainty impacting on investment.?

      Reply

      • Thats just a load of propaganda.
        The job could be done far better by owner occupiers.
        All the big estates i know are a joke. Its only property sales and govt subsidies that sustains them.

        Reply

        • Hector
          Can you refer to any public subsidies receivable by a landowner NOT receivable by anyone with a farm, a wood etc? Any support is there to deliver public policy whether it be agriculture, forestry, conservation etc. Theres no government dept headed “Landowner support”. Ditto tax reliefs. Same as those used by every other farmer, woodland owner, business etc.
          And if property sales are helping sounds like you’re getting what you want.

          Reply

  32. Question for Gentle Dove @ Sept 12, 2.44pm.

    You said “As for A R T B . This only concerns secure farm tenants whose families have farmed the same farm for generations .”

    Are you saying that ARTB should NOT apply to secure (1991 Act) tenants whose families have not farmed the same farm for generations? For e.g. a tenant who took on a farm for the first time in, say, the 1990s.

    Reply

    • Neil, 99% of secure tenancies predate ww2.
      there were certainly none given out in the 1990 s

      Reply

      • Hector
        I’d be very surprised if its 99%. It’s probably the majority but if we’re typical nearer to 50% than 100%. Secure tenancies were routinely used until the 1980’s and thereafter with a partnership agreement.

        Reply

  33. Question for hector @ Sept 12, 10.09pm

    Referring to Limited Duration Tenancies, you said “What options does he have aged fifty when the laird has stolen his improvements and wants him out?”

    Explain to us how the laird steals a tenant’s improvements under a LDT.

    Reply

    • In the time honoured way neil.
      Persuade the tenant to sign a new lease at year 7 , without a letter to carry improvements forward. simple.
      When you are young and stupid, you fix the landlords neglected roads, drains, and fences in the evenings, weekends and any spare minute, until one day the penny drops and you discover your laird is a two timing sheister who seeks more rent for his improved farm.

      Reply

  34. Andrew, sorry that is a poor answer because it is completely based around the fact that the Lairds already own all the ground. What i was trying to get at is why and how is it better, not a story of what they do when they own 60,000 acres.

    Reply

    • Slurry Stirrer
      Part of my point, and of the SLE submission, is that there are some things achievable by estates which would be more challenging (not impossible) by smaller owners who may lack the scale to do it. Large scale habitat management, integrated management of multiple land uses in the same area for instance.
      I agree that we start from where we are now in ownership terms but when you propose to force the sale of someone’s property against their will in the “public interest” I think that public interest should be clearly stated AND it should be demonstrated there are no viable alternatives. Now, much of the ire is directed at the minority of bad landlords. We have legislation a foot deep to deal with them if the case is as you suggest. I would propose that if you believe the current law is not fit then suggest changes. A key one (already being worked on) is the streamlining of the dispute process. Nobody should be deterred from seeking a remedy because the process of getting a remedy is too expensive.

      Reply

  35. Andrew

    So what about the forfeited estates , where land was forced from their owners ?.

    Reply

    • Gentle Dove
      You’ll need to expand on this. I can guess what you mean, and doubt we’re talking about recent events, but happy to learn more.

      Reply

  36. Neil
    You know full well that the Scottish Government’s intention was to allow. Limited Partnership and Secure tenants the pre -emptive right to buy . It is their right , and hopefully they will manage to fulfil that right .

    Reply

  37. Andrew
    I think you know more than you are letting on . When were ‘ forfeited estates ‘ last mentioned in Scottish history ? .

    Reply

  38. Gentle Dove

    I think “the forfeited estates” (sometimes also known as “the annexed estates”) were those confiscated by the government from landlowners who had taken part in the 1745 Jacobite rising. They were returned to their owners in 1784 so I’m not sure what your point was in mentioning them. Unless you were talking about a different set of forfeited estates I haven’t heard of.

    As for your comment at 9.21am “You know full well that the Scottish Government’s intention was to allow. Limited Partnership and Secure tenants the pre -emptive right to buy”, I do know that, yes, and that intention was delivered but that wasn’t my question. I asked you if, by your words (your comment above @ Sept 12, 2.44pm):-

    “As for A R T B . This only concerns secure farm tenants whose families have farmed the same farm for generations .”

    you meant that ARTB should NOT apply to secure (1991 Act) tenants whose families have NOT farmed the same farm for generations? For e.g. a tenant who took on a farm for the first time in, say, the 1990s?

    Contrary to hector’s assertion above, 1991 Act tenancies were indeed still being granted in the 1990s, almost invariably limited partnerships, of course.

    Reply

  39. neil LTD partnerships may be 91 act tenancies, but they are certainly not secure.
    There have been no meaningful number of proper 91 act tenancies since 1947.
    Most that have been granted would have been where a 91 act was surrendered and a new one granted for a different farm on same estate, they should not count.
    Factors crow about granting long LDTs but look into the details and you will see there is some deal behind it.

    Reply

  40. Neil

    Many of the owners were hanged , so how on earth were they returned to them ?. Not unless you know something that we do not !.

    As for R T B . The vast majority of farm leases have security of tenure where several generations of the same family have farmed the same farm . I believe that they should have the right to buy their farm .
    I also believe that Limited Partnership farm tenants should have the same right . Why not ?.

    Reply

  41. I understand the difference between a “secure” and a LP tenancy but both are 1991 Act tenancies. Are you saying LP 1991 Act tenancies should not be eligible for ARTB?

    Reply

  42. Neil
    I am saying that Limited Partnership Tenancies should also have the opportunity to buy their farm

    Reply

  43. Andrew Howard, we are not wanting the ARTB because we have a fall out with the factor, and it is too expensive to go and get a whipping. We are wanting ARTB to live and work with complete freedom and peace, but most importantly to foster HOPE for our youngsters. please stop putting us in the box of ‘angry tenants’, that just need a wee chat with some sensible RICS chap.
    Starting to understand you a bit better though, you mentioned scale of ownership, expand please. Tenants and owner/occ will be interested to hear.

    Reply

    • Slurry Stirrer
      The justifications for ARTB seem to depend upon whom you speak but not trying to define why in your case. This is where I get confused. Your remarks appear to imply the the mere fact of being a tenant is holding people back so they need to be released. This stands at odds with Andy’s original proposition which is that once you have us lot out of the way letting will become a normal part of the industry. I can’t square these two.
      As an aside some tenants would benefit from advice in some circumstances. The better they understand their position legally or technically the better to make decisions. That’s how you balance up the parties. I remain surprised how slow some tenants are to take professional advice over important issues. And I can’t believe its cost because the vast majority pay an accountant.
      Scale – some things can be achieved more easily with scale. An example would be habitat management which often requires scale beyond one farm holding to be effective. It’s not impossible with a number of small owners just more complex and therefore potentially less likely to happen. Another s that by using scale an estate can generate the potential for major investment on the estate. As I stated earlier I’m not saying that estates are the only way you can deliver certain things but they do often have the ability to do things not open to a smaller owner/ business.

      Reply

      • Perhaps a practical example or two might help with the scale point. Both projects we’re involved with. 1. Championship golf course and resort. You’ll guess which. Covers three farms (we reached very amicable agreements with two tenants – some was in hand). We lease the land because we want a long term interest (save the development funds) and invested a 7 fig sum in the scheme. Course has hosted for 3 yrs European tour event bringing 5million to local economy annually. Could have been done by three owner occs but would have been harder for developer (more parties) and would need all three owners to align there interest. Not impossible but would have reduced possibility of happening. 2. Hydro scheme (in farmed area not wild hill) runs 1.6km taking in woodland and what would have been 2 diff farmers. Same issue as above. There could have been three owners to align, sort out shares etc with one probably having to lead project. Again not impossible just more complex. We are actually working on a hydro scheme with Commission and community interest at present. It is definitely more complex and we have to do all the leg work and fund it all.
        I repeat – you don’t absolutely have to have estates to do this but they are often better placed to do it by scale and ability to co-ordinate activity over a wider area.

        Reply

      • The important thing is Andrew, that you get a very nice living out of “scale”.
        Working for lots of small scale farmers just wouldnt be the same would it?

        Reply

        • Simple fact is one party holding any form of control over the home and livelihood of another, always was, and still is, an uncivilised and inefficient arrangement for the use and occupancy of land.

          Reply

          Reply

  44. Correct renewals fall to the landlord, but do they ever carry them out?
    When does a repair become a renewal?
    All the land i have ever farmed has been in a severely dilapidated state when i took it on. If that were not the case, you would have a point , but you dont.

    Reply

  45. Neil

    ‘ They were returned to their owners in 1784 ‘
    The reason why I mentioned this is that the owners did not want to lose their land , but it was taken from them . Is this not a form of theft ?.

    Reply

    • GD – this crossed with my comment below. I see what you mean now but I don’t think confiscation of property as a punishment for crime can be equated with theft as that term is usually understood. Forfeiting your estate for armed rebellion in the 18th century is the same as drug dealers having their jet-skis taken off them in the 21st.

      Reply

  46. Gentle Dove,

    OK, so you think LP tenants should have ARTB as well. In an earlier post you asked why not? The answer is that not all LP tenants are the latest of several generations of the same family who have farmed the same farm. I don’t know how many are not “multi-generational” (if you’ll pardon the term) but if it’s not a majority then it’s a very substantial minority (which emphasises, by the way, what someone said earlier about the urgency of having accurate data to work from).

    This matters because, if you’re going to give it to LP tenants as well, it means your statement earlier that ARTB only concerns secure farm tenants whose families have farmed the same farm for generations is not true. I’m not saying you told a lie but it’s symptomatic of the depth of generalisation, over-simplification and plain ignorance [in the true sense of the word meaning lack of knowledge, with no pejorative intent] and misunderstanding which surrounds the subject.

    Many secure tenants merit ARTB. Some LP tenants merit ARTB. Not all 1991 Act tenants merit ARTB. It’s not as simple as some people make out.

    (PS – on the Annexed Estates, if the person who forfeited the estate was dead due to execution (or any other cause as I don’t think they were all executed), then it was restored to his heir who was alive in 1784. I’m still not getting the significance of the AEs in this context, though …)

    Reply

  47. Neil

    To cut a long story short as you are obviously trying to muddy the waters all 1991 Act tenancies should have the right to buy their farm .As a generalisation , I would say that all lawyers are clever .

    Reply

  48. Simple fact is one party holding any form of control over the home and livelihood of another, always was, and still is, an uncivilised and inefficient arrangement for the use and occupancy of land.

    Reply

  49. There is more heat than light being generated by this debate, but, through that all, there are a few things now starting to clarify themselves in my mind.

    Firstly, ARTB would create winners and losers. On which side does the balance lie, and is the net benefit (if there is one) significant enough at a national level to justify the Scottish Parliament intervening to legislate? People may well have their own gut instincts on this, but do we know for sure where the balance of benefit would lie? For every farmer that benefits, there might be a gamekeeper who loses his job, for example. Some-one has to do the necessary homework first. While current tenants would obviously benefit from ARTB, what would the overall net outcome be? I am not at all clear in my own mind that this has been demonstrated, or even atempted. Is it really a national issue in the way it was in Ireland, with over 600,000 tenants and their families all looking for greater security? With the 1881 Act, the govt simply had nowhere else to go. It was of huge national importance. They had no choice. It is an important issue here, but is it of genuine national importance?

    Secondly, if ARTB was ever enacted, then, as Jim Hunter suggests, all tenancy legislation should then be repealed, and that would remove the fear factor preventing future letting of land, including with those who took advantage of any ARTB.

    Finally, based on the NI experience, we should then stop referring to anyone taking land as a “tenant”. One of the most persistant ( & confused) arguments against ARTB is that it would harm the tenanted sector. We should just accept that ARTB would wipe away the tenanted sector completely. There is actually no need to label some-one taking land as anything at all. The person letting the land should refer to the person taking it (not his status) and the person taking land just says he is taking land from “such & such”. If you scrap the term “tenant” ( and “landlord” as well), you can then start to have a discussion about the functions being delivered or received by various people. It would free up the debate considerably, and move the whole argument on to different ground..

    Reply

  50. Victor, The great thing about ARTB is there will be very few losers and many thousands of winners.
    Once the dead hand of landlordism is removed, the “tenanted sector” will disappear along with the name, and farms will receive the investment are they crying out for.
    The dead countryside on former estates will spring to life with new buildings, renovations, new businesses, drainage etc the list is endless. Just look at farms which have been bought by tenants since 2003 to see the difference.
    Employment will recieve a massive boost from this, invigorating the entire rural economy..
    Tenants may be a small number unlike in ireland, but we must follow the irish model which is a proven success, with Ireland having a very high percentage of landowners , contrasting with the uk as one of the lowest.

    Reply

  51. Victor, if we had ARTB we would not know where the benefits would lie?? are you joking? There have been loads of reviews and analysis carried out own the benefits of owner occupation. There is a shed load of evidence regarding population levels and their link to owner stake in land. ARTB has nothing to do with gut instincts. ARTB is the first and most meaningful part of land reform in terms of empowering communities, there are two colossal game changers for communities i am not going to spell them out here, but i have fed them into the Gov.
    What this debate needs is the Lairds telling us their specific skills that make them more suitable for running rural Scotland than the rest of us. All the factor types are doing so far is rubbishing all the evidence and scare mongering. Nobody has come up with any good reason to keep Lairds & Massive Estates creaming off cash from tenants work. How many of the Big lairds are posting on here? its their servants that do it all, the skimmers. That alone tells us so much.
    Owner occupation in a diverse mosaic across rural areas equates to things starting to happen, HOPE.

    Reply

    • SS, are any of these reviews, analysis etc. you’re referring to there available to read online?

      Reply

      • Neil, look up Gigha, eigg. then look for SAC, they have a lot on owner occupied farming. Even have a look at Hebridean farm below. If you are sad enough to marry up census info and drill down, with some local knowledge you can get some good stuff on higher population figures where owner occupation is strong.

        Reply

        • SS – Gigha, Eigg and hebrideanfarmer’s youtube are all about community landlords. A different set from private landlords, no doubt, but landlords nonetheless. And don’t imagine community landlords are any more “benign” than the private ones if South Uist is anything to go by – telephone number legal bills run up pursuing crofters justified as “we have to steward our assets in the public interest”.

          Mustn’t digress. I am definitlely sad enough but probably don’t have the skills to interpret the data from marrying up census info – are there any reports etc. about ARTB (not community ownership) available online?

          Reply

  52. Addressing Victor Clements comment;
    Victor, I don’t believe it !!!!
    Do you really believe there is no evidence to prove that land run and governed by the locals does better than that governed by the laird ? Well here is something to start with http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXiF8xLnaq8
    Have you spoken to a farmer who is now an owner occupier having since been a tenant?
    There will be a few loosers, namely the lairds, but why should the gamies loose their jobs. The new owner will happily employ and support a new business venture.
    It comes down to the same old story, the landed elite think they are the only ones who can make a go of Scotland , and the reverse is the truth. I was sickened to hear a land agent (or other) say that Scotland was a wet dessert and fit for nothing but grouse moors probably.
    No wonder there is heat in the debate when there are comments such as ” but do we know for sure where the balance of benefit would lie? ” The evidence is out there, don’t be afraid to see it.

    Reply

    • HF
      I for one would never suggest that estates are the only people who can manage rural Scotland. But despite references above I am not aware of studies which demonstrate the huge benefits you attribute to a shift to owner occupation. I don’t think you can assert it will be all good. If you break up some estates, which will happen in some cases if the loss of land is critical, then that may very well lead to job losses and the closure of other ventures. There may be some gains with individual ex tenants deciding they want to do something new but those economic effects need to be considered carefully in advance. As I said in an earlier post if you are going to implement almost as harsh a remedy as you can (the forced sale of an asset – and not to the state but another individual) you need to be VERY clear about the benefits and that no alternatives exist. Undermining property rights is discussed rather casually in this debate but they are an important part of our society – whether you like that or not.
      If you direct links to research that would be helpful.
      And I don’t think the losers will be that few. It’s handy for you to use emotive language about lairds and the factor class etc but as I referred to much earlier in this string many tenancies (probably the majority) are owned by people who would not be considered large landowners. They may in fact be selling to a much larger owner / tenant. For instance many estates also lease land from others. Or are we to be excluded from any new rights. The tenancy arrangements already in place in Scotland are complex. Characterising it as solely an issue about big greedy lairds and downtrodden tenants with no control over their own destiny is a distortion of the reality.

      Reply

      • It is the reality, or we wouldnt be sat here didcussing it.
        It would be the lairds talking about how to reclaim “their” lands!!!
        You are pretty big on property rights, but what about rights to occupation?
        Scottish people have no rights to live in their own country, thats why they are scattered over the world, a nomadic race with way more of them abroad than in scotland.

        Reply

  53. Hedridean farmer,

    I am the grandson of some-one who bought their farm in N Ireland after the land reform measures there, and spent time working it myself. I am sympathetic to the arguments. But I have also worked on a fairly well integrated estate in Scotland, that was able to employ more people overall than would have been the case if parts of it had not been accessible to us. For this reason, I question if we really know what the consequence would be here, and has anyone really looked in to it? I think there is a lot of empty rhetoric surrounding ARTB, and I am quite sure that ScotGov have not done their homework on it properly yet.

    I think there is no question that the tenant farmers themselves would benefit, and I have no doubt that many of them will go on to develop diversified businesses that they cannot really develop at the moment. But others will lose out as well, and some of them will be working people too. I would like to have a better understanding of where the balance lies. I think that is a perfectly reasonable point to make.

    Reply

    • Victor, The estate you were on may have employed more people, but more than what?
      More than the constricted number a rent racked , hamstrung tenant can employ?
      You have to compare like with like.
      The estate i am on used to employ 3 people full time on various jobs.
      Now they employ nobody and just bring in contractors from a distance. There is no continuity, nobody living on/in ,nobody at the local school etc..
      The Irish model is one to follow.

      Reply

  54. I for one am not aware of any studies or evidence that promotes the continuation of Large Estates. Assertions that land reform will be all bad does not help. To use rhetoric and claim that certain sectors will face job losses without fact based evidence is simply not helpful. If we are to protect the current status which Lairds enjoy then we must be clear of the benefits. Its all very well for people to use scare tactics, but it does not help us to develop a strategy to move forward. Confining the debate to protect some of the most privileged people will only distort the truth. I cant imagine it is helpful to suggest that anyone is trying to undermine property rights, ARTB is actually an attempt to expand and promote property rights.

    Reply

    • SS
      I think the evidence thing cuts both ways. There have been plenty of statements about the negative impact of large estates and the benefits of a shift to owner occ. None have been supported by evidence. Entertaining as the rhetoric is gathering that data is how we might best spend some time.

      Reply

      • The evidence is all around if you open your eyes mr howard.
        Drive around tenanted estates and look at the crumbling buildings and fences , starved of investment for a century or more.
        There are none so blind as those who will not see.

        Reply

        • Hector
          I had a meeting with an MSP a few years ago who was telling me – in support of ARTB about a marvellous local farmer who had done this that and the other. Indeed he had. The MSP went on to say that was because of his position as an owner occupier. In fact the farmer was one of our tenants! You can’t generalise as you do.
          I’m waiting for the direct links to evidence.

          Reply

      • AH, “None have been supported by evidence.” you say
        Would you like me to post up the evidence of photos of ruinous farm houses and farm buildings (fixed equipment) that absentee lairds are collecting rent on. These buildings belong to millionaire lairds who have neglected their responsibilities to renew and replace fixed equipment, but claim that they are supporting the rural economy, and that we can’t do without them.
        Would you agree Andrew that in these circumstances (when a laird fails in his duty) the ARTB should come into force ….so that we can get on with our businesses and grow the economy.
        You keep asking for evidence, and not accepting what we give you, maybe now is the time for photographic evidence instead of figures. Just let me know, and I will respond positively to your request.

        Reply

        • I would just crack on and put it up on the internet.
          Lots of disgraceful evidence just waiting to be photographed.

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        • HF
          Fire away but remember to add relevant context eg a derelict steading may be surplus to requirement with no feasible alternative use found at that stage.
          No I don’t agree ARTB is the answer to an owner not fulfilling obligations. The law already addresses this right down to rights for the tenant to with hold rent.

          Reply

          • Okay, on your request Mr Howard

          • HF
            Not my request as such, its up to you. It’s your point to make. But remember the context.

          • Words of Andrew Howard… “relevant context eg a derelict steading may be surplus to requirement with no feasible alternative use found at that stage.”
            I rest my case !!!!! with an attitude like that, no wonder we have rural depopulation and tenants crying out for investment.

          • HF
            Your response was somewhat predictable. We an either have a sensible discussion about the nature of the assets required to support the farming industry or you can carry on point scoring. Up to you but the latter’s not very productive. It is hardly a surprise that there will be situations where a steading (and I said steading NOT house as is conflated in a later post) is no longer suitable for modern farm use – or on farm amalgamation has been replaced by a facility elsewhere. These buildings, which are expensive to adapt, may not have an immediate non agricultural use. Many are sold for housing and many used for other businesses. We have a number of the latter. But none of this means that’s the derelict building is key to that farm at that time – nor that it won’t find a use shortly. I’ve already said if the building is a part if the fixed equipment of the farm then there are remedies available to the tenant if the landlord is to blame.
            So context is important if you want a sensible discussion.

  55. Andrew, as heb farm highlighted, have a look at,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXiF8xLnaq8.
    Evidence plain and clear, if you contact Sahra Skerrat she will give you a shed load of tech data. NFU survey came out in favour of ARTB, STFA members when surveyed delivered a resounding 85% in support for a more diverse pattern of land ownership. Get a hold of the latest STFA news letter and read pages 10-15. Can i ask you Andrew if you have any trouble digesting the data perhaps you should contact STAG and seek some help. So come on Andrew don’t be so disingenuous with you ‘porkie pies’ like ‘none have been supported by evidence’ plenty of evidence just open your mind.

    Reply

    • Is the NFU survey available online somewhere?

      Reply

    • SS
      Lets play the ball not the man shall we. I may not agree with all of your opinions but I have not questioned your honesty or motives. So perhaps we could stick the point which is to identify considered study / research into the area. Like Neil I don’t have access to all that STFA and STAG have to offer but if they have study data perhaps that could be shared?

      Reply

  56. It probably got lost above but I already said that youtube hebfarm linked to is about community ownership of estates, not about ARTB. They’re totally different things.

    Not being a member of STFA, I can’t get access to their newsletter.

    I will contact STAG (e-mail address in their Facebook page) for info as suggested.

    Never a truer word was spoken than “lies, damned lies and statistics” but in contrast to 85% of STFA members (or respondents?) in favour of a more diverse pattern landownership, you could quote only 39% of STFA respondents (ergo a smaller % of members – thanks to Andy for straightening me out on that) voted for ARTB.

    But don’t confuse what people want with what is the right thing to do. Otherwise, there is a crying need for legislation so everyone gets to win the lottery …

    Does anyone know of any reviews, analysis, evidence etc. available online showing that ARTB is a good idea (in the 21st century, not in Ireland in the 19th). I’m not saying that in a “I bet it doesn’t exist!” tone of voice, I’d really like to know. Thanks

    Reply

    • I refute your comment that the findings of the Sarah Skerratt’s report is not relevant to the ARTB. It is. Tenant farmers are a small community buy out themselves, and you can directly apply the same findings. Infact I heard Sarah say that when land is in the governance of “Locals” you will get a positive outcome…..proven.
      Why not ask STFA for a copy of the pages in question? You seem well versed in the result of the STFA survey, but do you know exactly what the question was that 39% replied positively to? Did you know that they could NOT answer positively to both options given, when many clearly wished to? hence the 39% result. Be careful what you are quoting Neil and the conclusion you are drawing from it. You haven’t mentioned the NFU survey. That’s the one where there were 2 ways to take part in the survey. The online survey with a block on each computer to allow only one response, and also a further IP check on each submitted survey.
      Then there was the paper survey, on white copy paper. Photocopy surveys were submitted.
      NFU claim that one of the surveys had been hijacked…..now which one would that be ?
      So there’s much to be made of survey results, but unless you know the workings behind them, it is wise to approach the results with caution.
      Unlike crofters we haven’t had the ARTB for tenant farmers, so data is unavailable, but rather than posing lots of questions, I would invite you to come and have a look at tenant farms and then go and see owner occupied farms. That might give you your answers.

      Reply

  57. A H

    £5 million pounds? Could you give a breakdown of where this large amount of money goes ?

    Reply

    • Gentle Dove
      I understand the estimate was produced by HIE or THC. 60,000 visit the Scottish Open over the 4 days. Many clearly local but many not. Impact in notes, restaurants, caravan parks, shops, other tourist attractions, added golf etc etc. Event was this year shown on NBC in US so huge reach which is of obvious benefit in drawing tourists to Scotland from US.
      Impact centred on Inverness, Inner Moray Firth area for event. Wider promotion of highlands clearly wider geographic spread.

      Reply

  58. Hullo everyone,
    The photograph at the head of this page says it all. Why are such farms abandoned and left to rot?…the answer is not simple. The causes are many. But central to the issue, of why all over Scotland abandoned properties that could be put into reasonable order, tenanted and “Crofted” with a family in occupation, are empty, needs to be addressed. How many such properties exist? is there an registry of them, and where?…should it not be an obligation to register them, due to the public interest?…..there must be thousands of them. If the tenancy issue is to be addressed, then it needs looking at all aspects, including under use of land and property, properties kept deliberately vacant, etc…….

    My own experience has forced to the surface some interesting facts: One of the worst offenders in this issue seems to be the official bodies, and local authorities, who own and mismanage a great deal of land. The scale of local authority land holdings, and that of official agencies such as the Forestry commission, is very large. The way in which they treat this land can sometimes be exemplary, but often it is abysmal. ignorant officials, who have no technical knowledge of agriculture or forestry, seem to have a firm grasp of things in many places. a particular scandal is the Forestry Commission. In Galloway, they own large tracts, mostly monoculture softwood, that are biological deserts, so far as bio-diversity is concerned, but in their Galloway holdings, are man old farmsteads, with land. These are mostly empty, and a policy of deliberate neglect has been in force for some time. The buildings are not let, even for accommodation, the land is let on short lease, for grazing, and that is about it. There is no interest at all in supporting farming on these properties in any real way. Having allowed thee properties to decay to the point of near ruin, the recent decision was to demolish them, and then use the land for more mono-culture forestry. This has caused a considerable row locally, with many protests, and eventually, a new policy was adopted, that all such properties were to be offered first to proper community groups, for community use and development. Um, no, not exactly. The demolition policy is now replaced with one of selling the houses, in a decayed state, on the open market, to property developers, and doing nothing much with the land, until they are ready to tree plant. They do not want the nuisance of people, or farmers.

    I had personal experience of this, when i tried to rent one of the properties, or buy it, as part of my search for the site of an experimental research centre for green food and energy in Scotland. it would have been a community interest project. This was met with instant rejection by the Commission, who went against their own declared policy, and want to sell the house off and just plant softwood trees. hopeless. So abuse is widespread. I think that the issue does need to be widened, after my experience, into land misuse and abuse by the public sector.

    Reply

    • W
      ell said graham.
      In 1066 william the conqueror didnt have computers or cars, but he managed to compile a list of all properties in england, who owned them, who tenanted them and what the rent was.
      Surely that is not beyond the wit of the scottish government to carry out?
      Govt waste of land is nearly as bad as the lairds.

      Reply

      • Hector, very well put. But he did have Norman armoured knights to back up the inquiries!!. But; a registry is needed. Much derelict land going to waste. My own struggles with the forestry commission are an example. Too many smug officials who have no interest in serving the public who pay their wages. But I am going head on against the commission, who are doing what can only be described as land abuse in Dumfries and Galloway. Graham

        Reply

  59. A H

    You have had 10 years to offer more land for let . Using your crystal ball , if there is no change to the status quo , how much more or less tenanted land will there be in the next 10 years given that the Scottish Government has already bent over backwards to honour your demands .

    Reply

    • Gentle Dove
      Difficult to quantify but if status quo maintained I’d say less land let. Why? Because a minority won’t let ARTB go which affects the confidence of owners. The government made a clear statement in 2010 on ARTB which was helpful -particularly as many now in government were keen advocates in 2003 – and the new vehicles started to be used in increasing number. But we’re back where we started.
      How to solve? You need confidence across the range of owners. I actually think the larger owners will be less of a problem in that regards. As the SLE study from 2012 (link above) shows they are well let and by and large remain so as its a key part of their business. The issue is smaller owners and farmers. Contrary to the assertion which started all this trail off there is hardly any evidence at all that they will engage with the let sector. I cannot see that changing whilst all the vitriol we see continues to be heaped on landowners and the idea of “landlord ism”. It’s fixable -see figs for E & W link above – where % let land holding steady. Why? Because they don’t live in fear that a contractual decision made now will be one they regret in 15-20 yrs.

      Reply

  60. A H

    But were these new vehicles used on land that was already in the tenanted sector ?? . Over a period of 3 whole years surely there should have been a large amount of NEW land available for let ?? .
    And this NEW land should not be a 400 acre tenanted farm broken up to create 4 tenancies . That way , you can massage the figures !! .

    Reply

    • GD
      Land will come available under two circumstances. Existing tenant retires etc and gives up lease or use changes from in hand to let. Re the former the rate of tenancies ending has slowed dramatically. The CAP helps people to hold on and do less farming and the thought of future rights may be encouraging some to stay. See Defra paper The Future of Farming for ideas on how to resolve this one. Re the latter a farmer would need to shift use and decide to let. This has not been happening. Three reasons. Economics – more made farming than letting and taxed as trade; CAP – not wishing to risk to getting the new entitlements; politics – ARTB etc. note – 70% of farms are owner occ. Most estates are largely let SO the new land will largely have to come from owner occs. AND I repeat again not a sign they are doing so.
      So no surprise not a flood and for one ave never said there would be.
      A good number of LDTs will be to ex LPs or as part if deal. But some are new. Interestingly in E&W SAAVA suggest 20% of new FBTs go to new entrants.

      Reply

  61. Hello, get photos and personal stories into Gov, LRRG, SAC. If we as individuals put them up here it could cause bother for tenants. I am also going to stop trying to spoon feed factors with info and evidence, they give nothing back. What we now need is facts and details as to what special qualification the big lairds have as to why they might be better at running rural Scotland. Come on lairds where are you? Something direct and from source would be so refreshing, rather than the regurgitated 3rd hand SLAE drivel.

    Reply

  62. Andrew. i think it is a reckless approach towards our rural housing to quote that derelict steadings may be surplus to requirements. I could show you photos of good houses rotting away which do not require any ‘relevant context’ to somehow expain the situation. Neil king, one day i would like to meet you, if you ever pop over to Scotland and take you to visit these steadings. Visually really sad, but it is the atmosphere at these former family homes which strikes you, quite, empty and gone.

    Reply

    • SS
      Did I mention housing in my post? No I did not. If housing is practicable to bring back into use then it should be. My understanding is that LAs already have powers to address housing shortage where houses lie empty and used. The LA can use their powers if they wish. You don’t need new laws on that front.
      As a practical observation for some housing in rural remoter rural areas ever increasing building standards, private water supply issues and utility connection costs ( where they don’t exist) can be a practical impediment to reuse. Clearly, before you all jump down by throat, I’m not suggesting people be permitted to create substandard housing but it may be some regs could be relaxed to help.
      Oh, and VAT. 20% on all these renovations. 0% on new build. I think some reliefs may exist if the property empty for a while but 0% would help.

      Reply

      • Andrew, we all know you were referring to old redundant farm buildings. Scotland’s tenanted land is polluted with neglected buildings. You have made your views clear about redundant buildings, wriggling away from it now is disingenuous. Smoke screen with the VAT comment is pathetic.

        Reply

  63. The derelict steading may be surplus to the lairds requirements, but not to the rural economy.
    Every empty farmhouse means empty desks at the school, empty pubs, empty shops and a decline in activity in the countryside.
    Rural people in the lairds eyes are “surplus to requirements” so we shouldnt be surprised that their homes are too!

    Reply

    • You’ve hit the nail on the head this time Hector. Well said.

      Reply

    • Hector
      See my remarks above. Having a steading which is no longer suitable for modern agricultural purposes ( which maybe the relevant context) is hardly news so your faux horror is a bit overdone as is the suggestion that that leads to landowners wanting an empty countryside. Hardly supported by the evidence of the vast majority of cases. We have worked hard to find uses for steading no longer of use for modern agriculture. Some have been redeveloped for housing, many are let to small rural businesses which include an Antiques Centre, log cabin maker, joiners, butchery equipment retailer, toy manufacturer, camper van hire and sale, offices, kitchen manufacture, hobbies, clubs etc so please don’t suggest I believe an empty countryside. Like many others we encourage start up businesses with concessionary rents to help them get going. We’re lucky being in well populated areas of good demand. It may not be so easy in more remote areas where re-using some buildings may be easier sad than done.

      Reply

  64. Are you the same Tom Gray that wrote to the Scottish Farmer recently in fulsome praise of the Al-Tajirs of Blackford Estate, an estate studded with derelict steadings surplus to the laird’s requirements if ever there was one?

    Reply

    • It is noteable that only two people have interpreted my comments on the recent efforts of new management of the Blackford Estate as fulsome praise. Perhaps this is because any positive comment on the efforts of an estate is so rare that it is pounced upon and exagerated beyond context by supporters of large estates. In fact I merely praised the enthusiasm in the enterprising spirit of the couple whose enterprise was being visited that day.
      I quote:
      “On Sunday I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Highland Wagyu open day at Quoiggs Beef lot at Greenloaning. With Wagyu cattle turning the perceived ideal shape of Scottish beef cattle into reverse, this enterprise is arguably the most ambitious to be unfolded into the Scottish beef industry since the introduction of Charolais cattle some 50 years ago. That said, if it is half as successful as Highland Spring Water a few miles along the road, then we all have much to learn and I will not venture to predict the outcome.
      To me, the most noteable feature of the day was the obvious and unbridled enthusiasm for their project of our hosts, Mohsin and Martine Al-Tajir. They demonstrated exactly the energy that will keep farming alive in our hills and uplands. Enthusiasts with fondness for animals and determination to be successful in development of their aspirations on their own patch of Scotland. Similar aspiration is shared by all, and aspiring farmers. However, many are limited to the landlord tenant system or simply lack opportunity. Unlocking freedoms and opportunities must be prioritised!”
      The point is they were demonstrating exactly the enthusiasm for their enterprise that many do in their owner occupied family farms, or would do if they had one.
      With reference to the derelict steadings, I am several times on record in sharp criticism of the dereliction to which you refer and shall continue where appropriate until it is no more.

      Reply

  65. Positive comment on the efforts of an estate is not so rare as to require being pounced on except when it comes from a spokesperson for a tenant action group! I understand the point you were making but to illustrate it by reference to Blackford Estate – of all people! – instead of one of the many other owner occupied family farms you could have chosen struck me as politically “clunky” to put it mildly!

    Do you regard Blackford as an “owner occupied family farm”?

    Reply

    • Am I missing something here???
      I understood that the whole point of the comment from T Gray was that he was at attending an event about Wagyu beef. The subject was about Wagyu beef. Now whether or not Gray agreed with the estate management of Al-Tajir is not the issue. I commend Gray for not putting the “blinkers ” on and colouring his judgement on the vision, commitment, and energy of such a project. The result was that Gray commended Al-Tajir on these very things, relevant to the Wagyu beef project. I note that no mention or commendation was made of his Estate management policy, to which I understand Gray may have a different view. To be able to be so magnanamous as this is a quality to be admired, instead of having the “broad brush “approach of negativity of whatever is done. Now what I am not understanding is why NK thinks Gray should have chosen someone else to praise ???? Ehh ??? Gray was at the Wagyu beef event yes ???

      Reply

      • Heb, I would have agreed with you there 120% if the subject had been Wagyu beef (or cattle breeds generally or even innovation in agriculture) but it wasn’t.

        The subject TG was writing about, as spokesman for STAG, was land reform. In a letter covering not just ARTB but LVT and subsidy capping, choosing to illustrate one’s point by reference to Wagyu beef (leading inevitably to Blackford) struck me as a shocking own goal.

        Surely there must be other examples of smaller farms run by enterprising and enthusiastic young owner-occupiers TG is familiar with he could have chosen instead. (If there aren’t – or there are but TG isn’t aware of them – then that itself must be significant!)

        Reply

        • I disagree. I believe it was perfectly clear. Credit where credit’s due, the waygu project is amazingly visionary and energetic, and deserves praise…..can you not see that Neil? The good thing about TG is that he was able to see that without his Land reform tinted glasses on. Now you go on as you see fit, but you cannot criticise a man for admiring a well run enterprise just because he doesn’t like the other separate enterprise …can you ??
          I think you will find TG has plenty criticism to shower at this landlord, but magnanimously gives praise for his waygu efforts. I find that refreshing and fair.

          Reply

          • Again heb, I would say yes, I totally agree with you (credit where credit’s due, magnanimous of TG to be generous to people he is ideologically opposed to) if the subject of the letter was beef cattle. But the subject of the letter was land reform so – *in that context* – digressing into praising Blackford Estate for anything at all was, for me, a total WTF? moment. But obviously other people interpreted it differently.

            Let’s see what happens the next time a landowner with a bad reputation (or even a good one) is praised. I shall be expecting you and Tom Gray to be there to back up the “Hang on, credit where credit’s due …” line.

        • You have a problem Neil, and, since it has nothing to do with Wagyu beef, or farming or any other matter you have thus far blogged about, then I am sorry, I cannot help you solve it.

          Reply

  66. I suspect you are not as stupid as you make out Neil, and no, you obviously do not understand the point I was making. Wise up man! In this instance I could have chosen any other owner occupied family farm, that was the point.

    Reply

    • Correction
      I suspect you are not as stupid as you make out Neil, and no, you obviously do not understand the point I was making. Wise up man! In this instance I could not have chosen any “other owner occupied family farm”, that was the point.

      Reply

  67. UPDATE 18 SEPTEMBER 2013 – Statement from Richard Lochhead added at foot of post.

    Reply

  68. By “secure 1991 Act agricultural tenancies which can be passed down through families for generations”, does he include limited partnership 91 Act tenancies?

    Reply

    • Are limited partnerships to be included in any ARTB as presently under consideration by Mr Lochhead? No. Should they be? Well, that’s another question.

      Reply

      • And of course there are 91 Act tenancies which are not LP but still can’t be “passed down through families for generations” – e.g. because the tenant is a company or “unlimited” partnership. It is not an easy subject!

        Reply

        • Correct me if i am wrong, but company tenancies go on ad infinitum.
          Thats why there are very few, and are numerically insignificant.

          Reply

  69. A H

    Then what land was THE SCOTTISH LANDOWNERS FEDERATION talking about 11 years ago when discussing with National Farmers Union of Scotland ? . Was there any extra land to talk about in the first place ??? .

    Reply

  70. Andrew Howard, Why if the lairds dont want an empty countryside are so many steadings and houses derelict?
    They should be sold immediately to local people for homes and businesses.

    Reply

  71. no chance Hector, the big lairds that run SLAE don’t want locals getting on with the business of becoming owners. Tenants that know their position, that’s what makes the privileged feel special.
    No doubt Andrew Howard will tell us of some old or modern law that protects everyone, but it is the very existence of all these silly laws, which are hindering so many down trodden locals today. Useless tenancy laws thrown at us like crumbs from the masters table.

    Reply

    • SS
      We can have a sensible discussion about the matters at hand – or you can carry on with the colourful and misleading tabloid language.
      For the vast majority of landowners it makes sense to maximise the use of the resources they have – steadings, houses etc included. Where they cannot find that use they very often sell them to someone who believes they can. They also invest themselves in many of these properties being major providers of affordable rural housing (in many areas one of the key providers) and rural business space. Where there are under utilised properties it is important we understand why as that might provide solutions and ideas. In extremis, and as I’ve said already, powers exist to address, for instance housing shortage in areas where empty properties exist.

      Reply

  72. A H

    You proclaim that you provide affordable local housing . is all the housing that you provide up to a basic standard I.e Passing safety checks on electric wiring !! Is the house wind and watertight ??
    Is the house properly insured ?? As you should well know , lives are at risk !! .

    Reply

    • Gentle Dove
      Our members will be well aware of their responsibilities and registered landlords with the LA. Since deregulation in 1989 the private rented sector has generated huge investment in improving quality and increasing stock. It’s a good example of the benefits of creating something that works for both parties. Brow beating property owners, which is what happened pre 1989 meant reducing stock and no investment. Making it attractive has had the affect of making the PRS one of the key providers of affordable and accessible rural housing. It remains regulated – landlord registration, standards, deposit protection scheme etc providing protections whilst continuing to generate investment. Probably a reasonable balance.

      Reply

  73. Some landowners want to maximise the property assets they have, but who paid for those assets?
    A large proportion of steadings and houses were built in whole or in major part by tenants, and not the landlords.
    The old saying that something got for nothing wont be valued is perhaps the reason those steadings are allowed to fall down by the lairds?

    Reply

    • A “large proportion” you say hector. What sort of proportion are you talking about there? 5%, 20%, 50%, more?

      Reply

      • Hey Neil King, what about digging up Andrew Howard for his “vast majority of landowners” 5%? etc, etc

        Reply

        • SS
          I’d be interested to see the evidence that anything other than a small % of farm houses and older buildings were built by tenants. We have none. Tenants have invested in modern buildings, as have we (two this yr). The improvements aren’t rented and compensation is available at the end of the lease.

          Reply

          • Its rather amusing that you have no evidence of tenants building farmhouses and steadings. Why am i not surprised?
            Trawl through the court of session records and you will find the cases which came to court, which will be just the tip of the iceberg.
            All manner of trickery was employed in the past(and present) to relieve the tenant of his capital.
            Read the story of george hope of fenton barns , it never got to court, but it got into print.

  74. Andrew i’m comfortable enough to use colourful language but i will leave the misleading stuff to you. There is a clear and awful distinction between tenanted land and owner/occ, the former being littered with with missed opportunity. Large Estate owning under utilises land, buildings, people and investment. As the figures now say the area of tenanted land Has shrunk from 40% in the 80s to 25% so the Massive Estates promoted exclusively by SLAE cant even say they are good at letting land any more! It is now fair to say that if we want more chances for a new entrant to get a tenancy then it has to come from a local, understanding and knowledgeable owner/occ.
    Can i just put one of AH’s statements into plain english “the lairds very often sell assets when they cannot find a use” What this really means is ‘they sell a house to one of their rich pals from London to use as a holiday home’
    AH must have seen A. Wooton on the telly last week when he casually pointed behind him with his thumb at a mansion, just about the size of Dumbarton! saying something like the “the lairds need to pull on all their resources for the up keep of that” Brilliant way forward for Scotland! tenant farmers work the Lairds land, and are funding the upkeep of the mansion. Andrew Howard will now tell us that there is a section ‘whatever’ clause allowing a tenant to challenge the laird if he thinks the rent is unfair. Time to wake up Andrew and start pulling in the same direction as the people, you cant fight for the big lairds with ancient facts and statements that are only fit for the factors office, those days are over!

    Reply

    • SS
      Perhaps it’s worth reflecting on why the % of land let in Scotland continues to fall when it remains stable in E & W. Rather than Laird bashing, which seems to be the new blood sport of choice, you might reflect that carrot is usually more effective than stick. Remember many of the future mini lairds you imagine will step into our shoes will be watching the unedifying parts of this debate and reflecting on whether they fancy risking whether they in future fall into the wide class of people you feel are not appropriate custodians of land in Scotland.
      Looking forward to seeing the evidence of landowners selling properties to their rich London pals. Are people from London on the ownership excluded list for modern Scotland?

      Reply

      • Andrew, I agree carrot is better than stick, so therefore the ARTB for tenants will be a huge economic driver.
        Oh.. …sorry Andrew did you mean carrot for the millionaire absentee laird??? Would that be CAP?
        Also, can you explain to me your term “mini laird” ?
        Area of let land is falling because the laird gets a better return from the CAP
        In my books no one is excluded from modern Scotland…so long as they choose to live here in Scotland, they would then be fit to take custody of their part of Scotland. The “class” you mention would have nothing to do with it.
        My area of Scotland has many many holiday homes, having bought their 2nd homes from the laird. That said home should have remained a family farmhouse, but now no longer. So our community suffers, and that’s bad. Communities are the cornerstone of society. Erode communities to our peril.

        Reply

        • HF
          By “mini laird” I mean the new landlords expected to emerge post ARTB. They will be small landowners, say one farm, but when they let it they’ll be a landlord. I appreciate the term “laird” has wider meaning but it was shorthand for my previously asked query about why one landlord is Ok, but another not.
          I agree that farming directly may provide a better return than letting and that will be affecting decision making. However that effect is different for different landowners as is evidenced by estates still letting as opposed to farming themselves. Impact probably needs to be more completely understood.
          Remember many landowners aren’t absentees. We should focus on what they do not where they live. I’m not going to defend the disinterested but I do think we should take care about requiring residency. Could a farmer then not take a break for a few years and live elsewhere?

          Reply

  75. That is the sad fast slurry stirrer, tenants capital was used to build these mansions .
    As the quote goes, “behind every great fortune is a great crime” and these great estate houses are a glaring example of it.

    Reply

  76. Andrew Howard, again you are turning your back on your smaller members, the owner/occ of your SLAE membership. It is owner occupation which needs to be promoted, not clouded in fear which you choose. You Andrew have insulted them by referring to them as ‘mini lairds’.
    Remember your criticism for colourful language? “laird bashing” “new blood sport of choice”?
    Grow up Andrew critisise colourful language if you like but don’t then use it 2 posts later.
    Anayway
    Looks like Lochheads announcement has had a positive effect already. Two owner occupiers are starting to negotiate letting out parts of their farms to a young guy not far from me. Best for all parties concerned if there is a positive outcome for ARTB. We can do it, lets keep positive no body is going to take the land away. Time to stop all the negative fear and doubt.

    Reply

    • The “mini lairds” as you well know are the new breed of landlord which are supposed to spring up after ARTB. No one has yet explained why they will provide any different function to current landowners large and small and why they are acceptable as landlords but we are not.
      Far from ignoring smaller owners if you scroll up you will see that pointed out that the majority of let farms are owned by small landowners NOT the big estates. So many can expect to see the consequences of ARTB which I cannot see will encourage other small landowners or farmers to let farms.
      Not withstanding your comments the overwhelming evidence is that farmers are NOT letting land. If they don’t want to farm they enter contract arrangements. I suggest you poll the professions and ask them how many farms they have let on behalf of farmers. Let me know when you have the results.
      This isn’t about fear as you suggest. You can’t just accuse people of scare mongering because they disagree with you. My objection to your assertion is that letting, in my view, will not happen post ARTB as you suggest. There is no current evidence to suggest it will. If you want to argue that owner occ is better and that there is no role for tenancies of any length then make your case. But you’re trying to argue you’ll get every benefit conceivable, including a let sector which I do not believe is credible.
      The majority of the farming sector believe a let sector is an important and necessary part if our agricultural system. There may be disagreement about how to best invigorate it, but a sensible discussion over trying to meet each parties needs would be worthwhile, but blowing the system out of the water and then arguing it’ll be ok in the end, letting will come back has no evidential support.
      So why don’t we discuss how to meet the needs of both parties? Might be a better use of our time.

      Reply

      • Why are you ignoring the Norway statistics ? I know it doesn’t “fit” into your agenda, but they are neighbors of ours and we have something to learn from them.
        Local letting can offer a great deal more than the traditional Scottish laird……….(absentee)
        A local let has knowledge and understanding of the land. Look at Norway,
        but I guess you will probably just rubbish that as it doesn’t fit your plan of how you want things to pan out. Do you have evidence to counter the Norway statistics?

        Reply

  77. The majority of the industry do not believe that a large let sector is important.
    It only exists because we are stuck in a feudal timewarp.
    The let sector needs to be shrunk right down to the limited duration tenancies only which are an adequate vehicle for new entrants. (sldt is not )
    ARTB will deliver this quite quickly.
    Creating a new system of mini lairds is the last thing scotland needs.

    Reply

  78. A H

    I do not think you know what is happening in rural Scotland . There are many properties even in the area that I live in where the electric wiring in the house let by the BIG estate is an accident waiting to happen . The landlord has been told about the problem but is doing nothing about it .
    as I have told you before , there are lives at risk !! .

    You have still to explain if there were only ” sweet nothings ” being promised when the Scottish Landowners Federeation had talks (Maybe pillow talks )with Sottish Farmers Union before 2003 . Where is the extra land ?? .Was there any there in the first place ??.

    Reply

    • Changing ownership is not an appropriate response to addressing deficiencies in management. That’s why you regulate activities to ensure certain standards in the public interest. If they are not being adhered to enforce them.

      Reply

      • There is no way to enforce a laird to do anything.
        They have tentacles all the way into govt to ensure that they can do as they please.
        As an example, they are exempt from the regulations on insulating let properties.
        Somehow they got tenanted farms exempted from that.
        ARTB and nae lairds required.

        Reply

  79. AH, everyone knows fine the different role an owner/occ would play when letting land locally, compared to an absentee laird with dozens of farms. Why are you ignoring all the stats and data from the rest of europe? You have yet to provide any evidence as to why Massive Estates owned by absentee lairds are more suitable to run rural Scotland than smaller local owner/occ? You have yet to provide any evidence at all regarding the qualifications that big Lairds have? The argument seems to be stuck in some idea that we need to ‘prove’ the advantages of ARTB, Look at Orkney and their pattern of ownership.
    I think we should not be distracted, and keep focused on delivering a fairer pattern of ownership in Scotland, and implement the necessary changes to enhance the life of rural people. Oh by the way what are the needs of the Absentee Lairds if that’s what you want to discuss?

    Reply

  80. SS, you said “everyone knows fine the different role an owner/occ would play when letting land locally, compared to an absentee laird with dozens of farms.”

    I don’t know that fine at all. Would you care to explain it?

    Reply

  81. NO CHANCE King. and if you dont know then you have nothing to offer land reform. There is no way im going to spell out all the advantages on here, so that SLAE can counter. All the evidence, vision, solutions, problems and creative ideas have been fed and continue to be fed into the people that count.
    Why not for a change can someone tell us what specific qualifications an Absentee multi farm owning Laird has that makes them most suitable to own vast chunks of Scotland?
    Sadly Neil i feel the urge to critcise your comments, but i cant, because you say absolutely nothing!

    Reply

  82. “There is no way im going to spell out all the advantages on here, so that SLAE can counter.”

    Imagine an election with two candidates invited to a TV debate. What would the electorate make of one of them saying “I’m not taking part in case the other guy counters my arguments.”?

    ARTB isn’t going to be delivered by you and your neighbours (the ones that decided that “locally” means whatever you want it to mean so that, in Kafkaesque style, you can reach any conclusion you want).

    In parliament last week Richard Lochead said he didn’t know if there was a general problem or just a few bad cases that grabbed the headlines. With your reluctance to articulate your case meaningfully but your repeated comments about pink corduroys and so on, you’re just making me think you’ve just got some needle with your landlord and/or his agent. That’s not enough grounds to enact a general ARTB.

    But thanks for helping me make up my mind.

    Reply

  83. Neil, read it properly, im feeding my side of the debate into the people that count, the Gov. Your TV debate comparison is silly. If i was asked to go on the telly for a debate about ARTB, do you think i would say ‘no, im not talking, or look at his silly pink trousers’ ? ARTB will be delivered by EVIDENCE!
    You say “thanks for helping me make my mind up” stop yanking my chain Neil, there’s no way anyone will believe that you were swithering as to where your loyalties lie. totally hilarious!

    Reply

  84. Come on mr, howard , king etc, tell us why the status quo should prevail?

    Reply

    • Hector
      I haven’t suggested the status quo should be retained I simply don’t agree with your proposed medicine for the sector. I believe having a let sector is important for the future health and flexibility of agriculture in general. At present the let sector is not as healthy as it might be. The fact no one wants to use it – or at least not many – suggests current arrangements maybe holding the sector back. That discussion should be about ensuring the rules governing the relationship between existing L & T works and that a framework for new lettings can be found which provides an incentive to enter a letting agreement for BOTH parties. I would further suggest we concentrate on outcomes for the industry, use of land etc, rather than ownership.
      I’ve already set out above, and the SLE LRRG submission which is publicly available sets out many of the public policy objectives delivered by estates, big and small, across Scotland. I haven’t yet been presented with evidence that ARTB will bring about the land use benefits so often ascribed to it. When I see successful farm, and rural businesses across Scotland it isn’t a tenure type I see but talented and motivated individuals. You don’t need ARTB for that but training, business support, low entry cost opportunity (letting!?) etc. Yet that hasn’t been discussed at all in this debate.

      Reply

      • Low entry cost unfortuneately also means low value exit at retirement or sooner.
        Any young person taking such a farm no doubt on a too high rent may well build up a good business, but what will he get at the end when the body gets worn and the mind gets a bit slower?
        Answer; Notice to quit, and by the way leave all your improvements behind f o c.
        Put your name on the council house waiting list.
        Let land should be a small percentage of the total, say 5%, not the 30% today.

        Reply

  85. A H

    Where is the promised extra land that you obviously said would come available to rent if the landlords managed to get Limited Duration Tenancies 10 whole years ago . You have not kept to your side of the bargain !!! All we get are promises , but nothing happens .

    Reply

    • GD
      I don’t recall ever saying the 2003 Act changes would lead to lots of extra land coming to the market. The 2003 Act had greater potential than was realised for a number of reasons. They have been articulated before in this discussion. The ARTB debate dented confidence, S73 didn’t do much for confidence either, CAP reform and good farming returns have tended to favour direct farming. Having said that the new vehicles were starting to be used in increasing number until the current hiatus. I don’t believe you can or should set a target % of let land – it should be what the industry finds it needs. The pity of the current situation is that letting is not even considered by parties for whom it would probably best suit their needs. E&W, whilst not perfect as a system, does show you can invigorate the sector. As everyone seems so keen to learn from others perhaps we should see what can be learnt from our nearest neighbour which shares a similar pattern of ownership, not dissimilar inheritance arrangements and the same fiscal regime. None of which applies to all the other countries being cited as relevant.

      Reply

  86. The promise of extra and meaningful tenancies 10 years ago, for ARTB to be taken off the table, we have all been tricked. The Lairds had no intention of keeping their side of the bargain.
    We will obviously never get a laird on here to explain why they conned us, but what we will definitely get is their factors coming and telling ‘us’ the people what is best for us.
    Please will some factor tell us the special qualities that make the Big Lairds more suitable for owning loads of farms?

    Reply

    • SS
      There wasn’t a “bargain” and no one got conned. People make judgements which they feel are rational and in their best interests. ARTB was undoubtedly an issue in 2003 and it affected decision making just as it is now. The SG statement on ARTB in 2008 ish was helpful and the new vehicles were starting to be used.
      “Us, the people” – this isn’t an episode of Citizen Smith. Surely we should be focussing of allowing people make rational business decisions not embarking in some sort of class struggle which must look a bit bizarre to most landowners and tenants who wouldn’t recognise such a distinction.

      Reply

  87. The tenanted sector does not need invigorated, it needs buried along with the aristocracy.
    Both relics of a bygone age.
    If you think england has a better system, why is the average length of an fbt less than 4 years?
    Direct farming has not got more popular because of improved returns, they are an illusion. Direct farming has got more popular because of subsidy payments unrelated to production and tax benefits.

    Reply

    • Hector
      Because FBTs are also used for short cropping and veg lets. Fully equipped farms on FBTs are let for longer. I think 10 or 11 years.
      We all farm in the system presented to us. Agreed returns are affected by CAP and tax rules (available to all farmers – no special treatment for landowners; in fact income from let land is less favourably treated) but the price of wheat, lamb etc also pretty important surely.
      This illustrates an important point which is that business decisions of farmers, landowners etc are heavily influenced by public policy directives. In fact you could argue that the agricultural industry has been very good at responding to policy directives even when they moved around a bit. So before we all start trying to unpick or otherwise the delivery mechanisms (tenure etc) perhaps we should look at what we want to achieve in land use terms and what public policy objectives might relate to those conclusions.

      Reply

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