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Repairs and improvements if you're an agricultural tenant

Your landlord must repair or replace certain equipment they give you. If they refuse you can take action at the land court.

If you want to make improvements, you usually must ask your landlord's permission or give them notice.

Your landlord's repair responsibilities

Your landlord must give you the right equipment to farm the land properly. This is called fixed equipment.

Fixed equipment must be in a good state of repair before your tenancy begins. If it becomes unusable through natural decay or wear and tear, your landlord must replace it.

Fixed equipment includes:

  • ditches and ponds

  • fences, hedges and gates

  • roads, bridges and fords

  • water and sewer systems

  • permanent buildings including farmhouses, cottages and barns

  • electrical equipment, including generators, fixed motors and wiring systems

All your fixed equipment should be listed in your lease agreement or the record of holding.

Your repair responsibilities as a tenant farmer

Maintaining fixed equipment

You must maintain fixed equipment and keep it in good working order.

You could get a grant or loan from the council to do repair work you’re responsible for. This is called scheme of assistance. You'll be eligible if you're entitled to compensation for the work when your tenancy ends.

If you do not keep equipment in good working order you might have to pay your landlord compensation when your tenancy ends.

Reporting repairs

You must report repairs as soon as you notice them. If you do not, you might have to pay for any unnecessary damage.

If you report repairs by phone, report it in writing too so there's a record of it.

In your letter or email tell them:

  • what effect the repair is having on you

  • when you think it should be fixed by

  • when you expect them to reply to you

Use our letter template to report repairs.

Send letters by recorded delivery and keep copies of any emails.

How long repairs should take

Repairs should be done in a reasonable amount of time. Tell your landlord what you think is reasonable and ask them to agree.

To decide what is reasonable, ask yourself:

  • whether it’s an emergency

  • what effect it’s having on you and your health

  • how long is fair and realistic for your landlord to fix it

If your landlord will not do repairs

Apply to the land court

The land court can order your landlord to carry out repair work by a certain date.

Get legal advice from a solicitor so you know if legal action is right for you. Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website. You could get free legal advice or legal aid to help with costs.

We have guidance on the land court and challenging the court’s decision.

If your landlord does not follow the court order

Apply to the land court for an order allowing you to withhold rent and do the repairs yourself.

Do not withhold rent without permission from the land court. If you do, you could be evicted for rent arrears.

Any withheld rent must be paid to the land court. Once you've done the repairs, you can claim back the costs.

Carrying out improvements

If you want to make improvements, you usually must ask your landlord's permission or give them notice.

You do not need to give notice or get permission to:

  • clear bracken, tree roots or stones from the land

  • lay down temporary pasture

  • apply manure or fertiliser

You usually must give 3 months’ notice to:

  • improve roads or access

  • build fences or hedges

  • carry out land drainage work

  • put up, alter or enlarge buildings

You usually must get permission to:

  • lay down permanent pasture

  • carry out irrigation works

  • plant orchards or fruit bushes

Your lease agreement should explain in detail what improvements need permission or notice.

If your landlord refuses to let you carry out improvements

Your landlord must tell you in writing if they do not want you to carry out improvements.

If you disagree you can appeal to the land court. They can give you permission to make improvements.

Your rights when your tenancy ends

You could get compensation for any improvements you’ve made to the land. This applies whether you or your landlord ends the tenancy.

Contact a solicitor for help claiming compensation. You can search for a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland website.

Your right to remove any fixtures you added depends on your tenancy type. If you're not sure, check what tenancy type you have.

1991 Act tenants

You have the right to remove any fixtures you added at your own expense when you leave.

You must give your landlord 1 month’s notice before removing anything and put right any damage you cause during removal.

You have 6 months after your tenancy ends to remove any fixtures. During this time your landlord has the right to buy the fixture from you.

Limited duration tenants

You do not have the right to remove fixtures when you leave.

You can negotiate with your landlord if you want to remove any fixtures when your tenancy ends.

Organisations that help tenant farmers

Last updated: 19 July 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England