Your rights in limited duration agricultural tenancies
If you rent agricultural land and your tenancy started after 2003, you'll usually have either:
a modern limited duration tenancy (MLDT)
a limited duration tenancy (LDT)
short limited duration tenancy (SLDT)
All 3 of these tenancies have similar rights and responsibilities. Having an MLDT or an LDT gives you extra rights.
Check which kind of tenancy you have
If your tenancy started between 2003 and November 2017, you'll usually have an LDT or an SLDT.
You'll have an MLDT lasting for 10 years or more if either:
your tenancy started on or after 30 November 2017
your lease says that your tenancy lasts between 5 and 10 years
you have an SLDT and it has continued for longer than 5 years
You'll have different rights if:
Your landlord’s responsibilities
Your landlord’s responsibilities are similar in these kinds of tenancies. 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.
If you have a dispute with your landlord, it might need to 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 agreement called a lease. You should get it before your tenancy starts.
Ask your landlord for a lease if they have not given you one. They must do so within 6 months.
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
information about who's responsible for repairs to fixed equipment
details of your landlord's insurance responsibilities
details of your insurance responsibilities
The lease cannot include anything that prevents you from farming the land properly, or that weakens your rights.
If you and your landlord cannot agree on the terms of your tenancy agreement, you can ask the land court to decide.
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.
If you have an SLDT there are no legal rules about rent increases. You and your landlord will need to negotiate or follow the process written in your lease.
In an MLDT or an LDT your lease should say if and how your rent can be changed. If it does not, then either you or your landlord can request to change the rent with a rent review notice. The minimum amount of notice either of you can give is 1 year before the new rent will take effect.
If you have an MLDT or an LDT you can only have a rent review once every 3 years. There’s an exception if your landlord carried out improvements to the land and wants to put up the rent. In this case, they must give you written notice within 6 months of completing the improvements.
Your rights and responsibilities
Check your lease for your full responsibilities. Your responsibilities 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 have an SLDT you cannot use the land for any purpose other than agriculture.
If you want to move out
You can end the tenancy at any time if your landlord agrees. Make sure to get their confirmation in writing.
If you want to end the tenancy when your lease expires, you have to give your landlord between 1 and 2 years' notice. Your lease should say how much notice you need to give.
The end of the notice needs to coincide with the date your lease expires.
If you have an MLDT and are new to farming, your lease may say you can mutually agree with your landlord to end your tenancy after 5 years. Either you or your landlord would need to give between 1 and 2 years' notice before the 5 year date if you want to end the tenancy this way.
If you want to pass your tenancy to someone else
You have the right to leave your tenancy to any of the following people in your will:
your spouse or civil partner
a blood relative, excluding cousins
If you have an MLDT or an LDT you have extra rights to:
ask your landlord to transfer your tenancy to someone else, called assignation
sublet the land 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.
Check our advice on getting legal help for free or at a lower cost.
If your landlord wants you to leave
Your landlord can evict you if:
you break a term of your lease
they need the land back for non-agricultural purposes
We have more guidance on eviction from limited duration tenancies.
Organisations that help tenant farmers
Last updated: 2 November 2023