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Your rights in a 1991 Act agricultural tenancy

You’ll have a 1991 Act agricultural tenancy if either:

  • you rent agricultural land, and your tenancy started before 2003

  • your tenancy started after 2003 but the terms of your agreement state that your tenancy is regulated by the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991

You do not have to live on the land you’re renting.

You'll have different rights if:

Your landlord’s responsibilities

Your landlord has legal responsibilities. If they do something wrong, ask them to put it right.

If they refuse, get legal advice from a solicitor specialising in agricultural tenancy law. You may also be able to get advice from the Scottish Land Commission.

Some disputes can be settled in the land court or lands tribunal. Check our advice on applying to the land court or tribunal.

Providing a written agreement

Your landlord must give you a written lease before your tenancy starts.

Ask your landlord for a lease if they have not given you one. They must do so within 6 months. If they refuse, or if you cannot agree on the terms, you can ask the land court to decide them.

The lease must include:

  • a description of the land you're renting

  • how long you'll be renting it for

  • how much the rent is and when you need to pay it

  • a list of all the fixed equipment on the land and what condition it’s in

  • information about responsibility for repairs to fixed equipment

  • details of you and your landlord's insurance responsibilities

The lease cannot include anything that prevents you from farming the land properly, or that weakens your rights.


You and your landlord both have responsibilities to maintain the fixed equipment on the land you’re renting.

Fixed equipment means things like:

  • outhouses and barns

  • fences, hedges and gates

  • water and sewage systems

  • roads, bridges and fords

  • fixed electrical items, such as generators and fixed motors

If you cannot afford repairs, you could get a grant or loan through the scheme of assistance.

Check our advice on repairs and improvements if you’re an agricultural tenant.

Giving notice of a rent increase

Your lease should say if and how your rent can be changed.

Usually your landlord can only change your rent once every 3 years. There’s an exception if your landlord carried out improvements to the land and wants to put up the rent.

If you and your landlord cannot agree, the land court can fix the rent for you. The court decides the rent based on the market value of the holding.

Your rights and responsibilities

Check your lease for your full responsibilities. They include:

  • paying your rent on time

  • taking care of the land and equipment

  • reporting any repair problems and allowing access for repairs

  • not causing a nuisance to your neighbours

  • asking permission if you want to sublet

  • notifying your landlord if you want to use the land for other purposes, like tourism

If you break any of the terms of your lease agreement, your landlord could try to evict you.

If you want to move out

If you want to end the tenancy when your lease expires, you must give your landlord at least 1 years’ notice. The end of the notice needs to coincide with the date your lease expires.

If your lease has expired, you can end the tenancy at any time by giving 1 year’s notice.

Use our letter template to end your tenancy correctly.

If you want to retire

You can get compensation from your landlord when you retire. This means you'll get an amount of money when you stop farming and move out.

The amount you'll get depends on the market value of your tenancy.

If you’re considering retiring, it's important to seek specialist advice from your accountant or solicitor.

If you want to pass your tenancy to someone else

You have a right to leave your tenancy to any of the following people in your will:

  • a spouse or civil partner

  • a blood relative (for example, a child, sibling or parent)

  • a step-child

  • a child or step-child’s spouse or civil partner

You also have the right to:

  • ask your landlord to transfer your tenancy to someone else, called assignation

  • sublet the land to someone else, if it says you can in your lease

Your landlord can object to an assignation in specific circumstances. Get legal advice from a solicitor if this happens.

If you transfer the tenancy your tax liability could be affected, so you should get advice from a solicitor.

Find a solicitor on the Law Society of Scotland

Check our advice on getting legal help for free or at a lower cost.

If you want to buy the land

You can register your interest to buy the land you're renting even if it’s not for sale. If your landlord then decides to sell you’ll get first refusal. This process is called the right to buy.

Speak to a solicitor if you want to buy the land you're renting.

You'll need to send a notice of interest to the Keeper of the Register of Community Interests in Land. You must also send a copy of the notice to your landlord. A solicitor can help you do this.

If your landlord wants you to leave

Your landlord can only evict you in certain circumstances. There's a strict process they must follow.

Check our advice on eviction from a 1991 Act agricultural tenancy.

Organisations that help tenant farmers

Last updated: 25 October 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England