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02/04/14 10:00

Land tenancy order

Legislation amended following Supreme Court Ruling.

Legislation aimed at correcting a legal issue with land tenancies will be signed into law today (Wednesday April 2, 2014).

The Supreme Court ruled last year that the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003 must be amended, because a subsection of that Act breached the rights of landlords under the European Convention on Human Rights.

This related to situations where dissolution notices were served in limited partnership arrangements during the narrow window from September 16, 2002 – June 30, 2003. The 2003 Act allowed full 1991 agricultural tenancies to exist under certain circumstances.

The Remedial Order is estimated to apply to fewer than 25 cases and comes into force tomorrow (Thursday April 3, 2014).

Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead said:

“This has been an extremely complex legal case that has led to a great deal of uncertainty hanging over part of the tenant farming sector – although, thankfully, the number of cases involved is much smaller than originally thought.

“I am fully aware of the stress this has caused and hope that the passing of this Order provides clarity to those who have been waiting for answers and whose lives have been put on hold whilst this has been pending.

“The Order provides for individual tenancy arrangements to be amended and I am grateful to industry organisations and the Scottish Parliament’s RACCE committee for all their help preparing this solution.

“In order to help reach fair and balanced outcomes, the Scottish Government is funding independent mediation for the small number of landlords and tenants affected and I urge all affected parties to take up this offer.”

Notes to editors

The new legislation means:
• Full 1991 agricultural tenancies created under the defective legislation are no longer guaranteed to be available for those who had their limited partnership dissolved during the period September 16, 2002 – June 30, 2003.
• In cases where full 1991 agricultural tenancies were so created, affected landlords will have the option of converting to a tenancy held under section 73 of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003. This type of tenancy allows landlords, if they wish, to recover vacant possession following a three year notice period.
• The introduction of a cooling off period, lasting until November 28, 2014, during which time affected full 1991 agricultural tenancies cannot be converted.
• Any affected landlord wishing to convert to a section 73 tenancy must serve notice of this by November 28, 2015. If no action is taken, the tenancy will remain a full 1991 agricultural tenancy.
• The Rural Affairs Secretary has already stated his intention to exclude this group of tenancies from absolute right to buy should such a measure be brought in for 1991 agricultural tenancies in future – an issue which is currently being considered by the Ministerial-led review of Agricultural Holdings Legislation.
• Plain English guidance explaining the changes is being prepared and will be available shortly.

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