TENANT farming commissioner, Bob McIntosh has once again warned all tenant farmers that the countdown to the ‘past improvements’ amnesty deadline has begun in earnest and with only one year to go, they stand to lose a lifetime opportunity to safeguard the future of their tenancies unless they act immediately.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 introduced, among other things, the amnesty for tenant’s improvements and, speaking at the Royal Highland Show, Mr McIntosh urged that people use the amnesty to their own benefit.

There is now less than a year to go in the three year amnesty period.

“Time is running out,” admitted Mr McIntosh. “This is really our last push to encourage people to take part. If people haven’t got the message now, I’m not actually sure what else we can do. If people do still want to take part and haven’t started the process, however, they really do need to be doing so as soon as possible.

“We understand that those in farming can sometimes have a ‘we’ll get round to that soon’ attitude, but in this instance, ‘soon’ is ‘now’!”

He continued: “Taking part is not a two minute job, it is a process that takes a few months. However, it holds a great deal of benefits. There isn’t a catch in this situation. It’s a win win.

“The amnesty is not just about what will happen if a tenant comes out of their tenancy, it will also have an effect when the new rent system comes in to practice.”

The amnesty is a three year period in which an agricultural tenant can seek to agree with their landlord a list of improvements which should be eligible for compensation at the termination of the lease (waygo) notwithstanding that the correct notification procedures were not followed when the improvement was undertaken.

The statutory provision relates to improvements carried out by the tenant prior to the coming into force of the Amnesty on June, 13 2017 and, strictly speaking, the amnesty does not apply in respect of improvements carried out by the tenant since that date, though parties might be prepared to include these in an amnesty agreement.

The amnesty affords an opportunity to correct failure to comply with statutory notification procedures, but to be eligible, the improvement must still comply in all other respects with statute.

The amnesty is one of the provisions of the Land Reform Act (Scotland) 2016 and allows for certain past improvements carried out by the tenant to become eligible for waygo compensation despite missing notices or consents.

The amnesty applies to all types of leases, but only lasts for a three-year period during which a tenant may notify his landlord of the works carried out on the farm which he wishes to be registered as improvements. The amnesty ends on June 13, 2020.