Limited duration tenancies (LDTs)
Limited duration tenancies were introduced in 2003. If you have taken on an agricultural tenancy since then with a lease of more than five years, you are likely to have an Limited duration tenancy. This page explains your rights.
Shelter Scotland can provide you with advice on general rights in relation to to your housing. However with an agricultural tenancy your home is also your business. Because of this, if there is a dispute between you and your landlord then usually you will need to seek assistance from a solicitor.
How do I know if I have a limited duration tenancy?
You will probably have a limited duration tenancy if:
you rent agricultural land, and
your tenancy began after 2003, and
your lease lasts 10 years or more, and
you aren't employed by your landlord - if you are, you'll probably be an agricultural occupier, service occupier or service tenant.
Limited duration tenancies have to last at least 10 years. If your lease states that your tenancy lasts more than five years but less than 10 years, it will by default be an limited duration tenancy and will last for 10 years.
If you have converted from a 1991 Act tenancy to an limited duration tenancy, your lease must run for at least 25 years.
You don't have to live on the land itself to be an agricultural tenant.
As a limited duration agricultural tenant, you have rights that are protected by law. These include the right:
to a written lease
to get compensation for any improvements to the agricultural property that you've carried out, and possibly other compensation payments as well (when the lease ends)
to use the land for non-agricultural purposes
to pass on your tenancy to someone else
to leave your tenancy to a spouse or relative in your will.
These rights should be set out in the lease you have with your landlord. If your lease doesn't contain these rights, get legal advice from a solicitor specialising in agricultural law. In most cases, your landlord shouldn't be able to take these rights away from you, for example by including clauses in your lease which contradict them.
Your right to a written lease
Before your tenancy starts, your landlord should provide you with a written lease, setting out the terms and conditions of the tenancy. If you don't have a written lease, or if your lease doesn't cover all the points listed below, you can ask your landlord to supply one, and they must do so within six months. If they refuse, or if you can't agree on the terms and conditions, you can go to the Land Court and they can decide the terms and conditions of the tenancy for you.
The lease must include:
your name and the name of your landlord (the parties of the lease)
a description of the land you're renting (the subjects of the lease)
how long you'll be renting it for (the duration or term of the lease) - if different parts of the land are let for different lengths of time, this should also be stated here
how much the rent is and when you need to pay it
a list of all the fixed equipment on the land
additional information about responsibility for repairs to fixed equipment (see 'who is responsible for repairs' below)
details of your landlord's responsibility to insure the property against fire damage and repair any damage caused by fire, and your responsibility to insure the crops and stock against fire damage.
The lease may also contain other terms and conditions, but these can't include anything which might prevent you from farming the land properly or take away your legal rights.
You and your landlord both have certain responsibilities to maintain the fixed equipment on the land you are renting.
Fixed equipment includes:
permanent buildings such as farm houses, cottages and barns
fences, hedges and gates
ditches and ponds
water and sewerage systems
roads, bridges and fords
electrical equipment, such as generators, fixed motors and wiring systems.
The page on repairs and improvements explains your rights and responsibilities in more detail.
What happens when the lease runs out?
Your written lease should say how long your tenancy lasts for and when your lease expires. However, you don't necessarily have to leave on that date - you may negotiate with your landlord to carry on the tenancy.
If your landlord wants you to leave at the end of the lease, they have to follow the correct procedure. If they fail to do so, your tenancy will carry on through a 'cycle of continuations'.
If you want to leave
You can arrange to end the tenancy at any time, providing your landlord agrees to this.
If you wish to end the tenancy when your lease expires, you must give your landlord written notice of no less than one year and no more than two years before the expiry date of the lease or the continuation period.
Can my landlord ask me to leave before the lease runs out?
Before your lease is up, your tenancy can only be ended if:
you and your landlord agree to end it, or
you break a term of your lease, or
your landlord needs the land back for non-agricultural purposes.
The page on eviction before the end of your limited duration or short limited duration lease explains this in more detail.
Can I use the land for anything other than agriculture?
Even if your lease prohibits it, limited duration tenants are allowed to use agricultural land for other purposes (such as tourism or forestry). This is known as diversification. If you wish to do so, you will need to send your landlord a notice (called a 'notice of diversification') outlining your proposal. This must be sent at least 70 days before the changes are due to begin. Your landlord can ask you to supply further information if necessary.
Can my landlord change the rent?
Your lease should set out when and how often the amount of rent you have to pay can be altered. If your lease doesn't contain this information, the procedure outlined below must be followed.
If you or your landlord want to change the rent, you will need to send the other party a notice requesting a rent review. This must give at least one year but no more than two years' notice of the date of the review. Once you're agreed on a new rent level, this will be payable from the review date.
How often can the rent change?
You can only have a rent review once every three years, unless your landlord has carried out improvements to the land and wants to put up the rent. In this case, they must give you written notice within six months of completing the improvements.
What can my landlord take into account when setting rent levels?
When setting rent levels, your landlord can't take into account:
how the fact that you occupy the land affects its value
any shortage of land to let in your area
any improvements you've made and paid for yourself
any improvements they've made that were paid for by a grant
any damage or deterioration to the land that you're responsible for
any reduction in rental value due to diversification (using the land for non-agricultural purposes)
any conservation work you've done.
However, your landlord should consider:
the terms of your tenancy
rents charged for other similar land in the area
the current economic conditions in your particular sector of agriculture
any improvements they've made and paid for
any rise in value due to diversification.
Can the Land Court change the rent?
If you or your landlord apply to the Land Court to settle any disputes over your lease, they can vary the rent if necessary.
Can I sublet the land?
You can sublet the land to another tenant if your lease permits it.
Can I transfer the tenancy to someone else?
You have the right to ask your landlord if you can transfer (assign) your tenancy to someone else. Your landlord may be able to object in specific circumstances.
There is a legal process which needs to be followed. There may also be taxation consequences if you transfer the tenancy so you should seek specialist advice from a solicitor.
Can I leave my tenancy to someone in my will?
You have a right to leave your tenancy to any of the following people in your will:
your husband, wife or civil partner
a blood relative (for example, a child, brother, sister or parent)
your daughter-in-law or son-in-law.
Do I have the 'right to buy' my limited duration tenancy?
No, only 1991 Act tenants have this right.
Resources for tenant farmers
The following organisations may be able to provide you with further advice or support:
Scottish Land Commission includes free access to guidance documents on a wide range of issues affecting tenant farmers in Scotland
If you're a member of the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) you can call their free legal helpline for advice.
If you're a member of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association, you can access a professional panel of chartered surveyors, valuers, solicitors and accountants.
Last updated: 29 December 2014