Repairs and improvements for agricultural tenants
This page explains your rights to get repairs done and to carry out improvements if you have an agricultural tenancy (a 1991 Act tenancy, limited duration tenancy or short limited duration tenancy). You and your landlord both have certain responsibilities to maintain the fixed equipment on the land you are renting.
What is fixed equipment?
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.
All the fixed equipment on the land should be listed in the lease or, if you're a 1991 Act tenant, in the record of holding.
Who is responsible for maintaining fixed equipment?
Your landlord is responsible for providing the fixed equipment necessary for you to farm the land properly, and for ensuring that it's in a good state of repair before the tenancy begins.
It's then up to you to maintain the equipment and keep it in good working order. If you don't, you may have to pay your landlord compensation when your agricultural tenancy ends. Your landlord is responsible for replacing any fixed equipment that becomes unusable through natural decay or fair wear and tear.
Can I get any help to maintain my home?
If you need to carry out repairs to your home, you may be able to get a grant or loan from the council in order to carry out the work, provided that you would be eligible for compensation for the work when your tenancy ends.
Find out more about the council's scheme of assistance.
What if my landlord won't carry out the repairs?
If your landlord isn't fulfilling their obligations to repair fixed equipment, you can apply to the Land Court for an order forcing them to carry out the necessary work by a specified date. If your landlord fails to do so, you can apply for another order from the court to authorise you to carry out the work yourself and/or withhold rent.
You can only withhold (or not pay) your rent if the Land Court has authorised you to do so. Otherwise your landlord may be able to evict you for rent arrears.
If the Land Court authorises you to withhold rent, you can't keep the money, you must pay it to the Land Court instead. You can then apply to the Land Court to get the money back to cover any costs you've incurred.
In this situation, your landlord can't try to evict you for non-payment of rent. In addition, if your landlord tries to include a clause in your lease denying you the right to withhold rent, this clause will not be legally binding.
What if I want to carry out improvements?
You may wish to carry out improvements to the land, for example by putting up new farm buildings or building new fences, ditches or access roads. Depending on the kind of improvement you want to make, you may need to ask your landlord's permission, or give them notice.
Improvements requiring permission
laying down permanent pasture
carrying out irrigation works
planting orchards or fruit bushes.
Improvements requiring notice
For other improvements, you will need to give your landlord three months' notice. These include:
improving roads or access
building fences or hedges
carrying out land drainage work,
putting up, altering or enlarging buildings.
Improvements which don't need permission or notice
Some improvements don't require consent or notice. These include:
clearing bracken, tree roots or stones from the land
laying down temporary pasture
applying manure or fertiliser.
Your lease should explain which improvements require consent or notice, and which don't.
What if my landlord doesn't want me to carry out improvements?
If your landlord doesn't want you to carry out an improvement, they should let you know in writing. If you feel they are being unreasonable, you can appeal to the Land Court.
What happens when I leave?
If you are a 1991 Act tenant, when your tenancy ends you have the right to remove any fixtures that you've added at your own expense (for example, buildings or machinery), provided you are up to date with the rent and have fulfilled all the other obligations of your tenancy (such as leaving the land in good condition). You have six months from the date your tenancy ends to do this, and you must give your landlord a month's notice to let them know. During this time, your landlord has the right to buy the fixture from you. If you do remove the fixture, you must put right any damage caused in the process.
Limited duration tenants and short limited duration tenants do not have this right - if you wish to remove any of the fixtures from the land when you leave, you'll need to negotiate this with your landlord.
Find out more about agricultural tenancies.
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: 22 May 2017