TENANT FARMERS have been asked to share their experiences of the currents system of rent reviews.

Prior to starting any legislative work on a new rent review test for tenants, Scottish Government have commissioned Research Resource Ltd to carry out the survey, which all of Scotland’s tenant farmers should by now have received by post, with an invitation to complete and return it by May 24.

Its results will be used to inform a review of the rent review test and process for agricultural tenancies – so the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association is keen for as many tenants as possible to take part, to ensure any future changes to the rent test take into account their views.

STFA chairman Christopher Nicholson said: "As many tenants will know, we have still not moved on from the open market rent test which for several decades has proved an unsatisfactory method of setting rents. With a scarcity of open market lettings it is difficult for parties to find suitable comparable evidence and the current open market test does not take account of the farm’s earnings capacity.

"Following some difficult and lengthy rent review cases heard in the Land Court, since 2014 we have had industry guidance which aims to limit rent increases to CPI increases, and now a Code of Practice from Bob McIntosh, the Tenant Farming Commissioner. These are seen as attempts to limit damaging rent increases under the open market test until a new rent test is in place," explained Mr Nicholson.

"Our current rent test places too much emphasis on open market comparable evidence, and not enough emphasis on the earnings capacity of the farm. Before Scottish Government can start work to implement a new rent test, this survey of tenants is required to find out what tenants think of current rent reviews. We would encourage tenants to complete the survey which should take only five to 10 minutes and return as instructed by the deadline of May 24."

Mr Nicholson added: "Unless the survey shows an appetite for change away from the current open market test it will be difficult to persuade Government to introduce a new rent test."