SCOTLAND'S tenant farming commissioner, Bob McIntosh, has issued a new code of practice to be followed by landowners, their tenant farmers and the land agents in between.

The Code of Practice for Planning the Future of Limited Partnerships is the second to be published by the commissioner under the authority of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016.

The TFC has been made responsible for issuing a suite of codes to guide and shape the behaviours and processes which accompany the interactions and negotiations between farm landlords and tenants, including agents and intermediaries acting for either party.

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Mr McIntosh said: "The aim of this code of practice is to minimise uncertainty for both parties in a Limited Partnership when it is approaching its dissolution date. The code describes what steps should be taken, by both the tenant farmer and the landlord, when discussing future arrangements for the partnership.

“Limited Partnerships have served the tenant farming sector well, but following the passing of the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003 they now have restricted use," noted Mr McIntosh. "There are over 500 limited partnerships still in existence and many are reaching their dissolution date. It is important that discussions take place with plenty of time for both parties involved to discuss their aspirations before a final decision is agreed to the future of the partnership."

Mr McIntosh stressed that he had worked closely with the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, NFU Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in developing the code so that, wherever possible, the agreed positions were reasonable and fair to both landlords and tenant farmers.

As with all codes issued by the Tenant Farming Commissioner, if a landlord or tenant feels that the other party, or an agent of that party, has acted in a way that breaches the code of practice they are able to make a complaint to the commissioner.

Commenting on the code of practice, STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said: "The code of practice reflects what is already happening on some well managed estates, where limited partnership agreements are being rolled into new long term limited duration tenancies which will permit the tenant to continue farming up to retirement.

"However, there are many other limited partnership tenants who find themselves in difficult and uncertain positions, being in the middle of their farming careers but with tenancy agreements close to ending," he said.

"These were yesterday’s new entrants to farming, who now find themselves in the most critical part of their careers with families to support but with uncertainty over their future tenure. STFA urges both landlords and tenants involved in limited partnership tenancies to read this Code of Practice and to consider opening discussions about entering into new tenancy agreements," said Mr Nicholson.

"The majority of these tenants will have invested heavily in improvements to the holdings, and tenants must remember to ensure that these improvements are carried forward into any new leases otherwise the improvements will become the property of the landlord," he added.

The Code of Practice for Planning for the Future of Limited Partnerships can be found on the Land Commission’s website www.landcommission.gov.scot/tenant-farming/codes-of-practice/

For in-depth news and views on Scottish agriculture, see this Friday’s issue of The Scottish Farmer or visit www.thescottishfarmer.co.uk