One of the strategic objectives of the new Scottish Land Commission is to ensure that the ownership and use of land delivers greater public benefit. It has commissioned a series of independent discussion papers on key land reform issues and has now published the first of these. The paper considers how the operation of the land market could be improved, and how the supply of land for new housing could be increased, through public sector intervention.
All new residential property leases in Scotland are now subject to a new letting regime, under which it is no longer possible to enter into a new assured tenancy or new short assured tenancy. Instead, all new residential lets (unless exempt) will be private residential tenancies (PRTs). A number of aspects of the PRT and the model tenancy agreement may need to be modified in view of the different characteristics of residential properties in rural areas.
The most recent incarnations of the Scottish Parliament's land reform and community engagement policies have continued the land reform agenda regarding land ownership and furthered the empowerment of communities. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 and the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 include proposals for regulations to create a Register of Controlling Interests in Land and extend the community right to buy in order to include a right to purchase abandoned, neglected or detrimental land.
In a bid to promote and facilitate good practice between landowners and farm tenants, Scotland's tenant farming commissioner is producing a series of codes of practice under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016. The latest of these concerns sporting rights and, among other things, encourages sporting rights holders to communicate with agricultural tenants, in particular regarding access across agricultural land and when planning a shoot.
Agricultural land which is let under a lease on or after November 30 2017 for a term of no less than 10 years is now known as a modern limited duration tenancy (MLDT). Introduced by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, the MLTD has replaced the former limited duration tenancy (LDT) and it is no longer possible to create a new LDT. While MLDTs are similar to LDTs, there are a number of practical differences which landlords and tenants will need to know.
Where a farming operation is structured as a partnership, it is important to establish whether the underlying land is partnership property for a number of reasons. These can include whether the land is potentially subject to a legal rights claim on the death of a partner, ascertaining the sums due to the partners on the dissolution of a partnership and also tax reasons, such as whether the land will qualify for 100% business property relief for inheritance tax purposes.
The tenant farming commissioner recently issued guidance on how parties should negotiate the future of limited partnership tenancies. The guidance sets out certain key principles, including that discussions about the future of a limited partnership should take place well in advance of the termination date. Further, all options should be considered in an attempt to meet the wishes of the landlord and the limited and general partners and to support the future sustainable management of the holding.