Eviction of 1991 Act tenants before the lease expires

This page explains the rights of a tenant with a 1991 Act agricultural tenancy if their landlord asks them to leave the land prior to the expiry of the lease. The landlord can only end the tenancy in certain circumstances.

This content applies to Scotland

Eviction procedure before the term of the lease expires

Before the term of the lease has expired, a landlord can only evict a tenant if:

  • s/he owes more than six months' rent (see below)

  • s/he has become bankrupt [1]

  • s/he breaks an irritancy clause in the lease [2]

  • the lease gives the landlord the right to resume the land for building, planting or other non-agricultural purposes – in this case, the landlord does not need to send the tenant a notice to quit. [3]

Tenant breaks an irritancy clause

If the tenant is due to be evicted for breaking an irritancy clause, s/he should check that the clause is valid under the 1991 or 2003 Acts. For example, a tenant cannot be evicted for non-residency on the land. [4] (See 'provisions of the lease' on the page on 1991 Act tenancy for more detail.)

This is a complicated area, and in recent cases landlords have been unable to remove tenants using irritancy clauses. Therefore, if a tenant is being evicted for breaking an irritancy clause, the matter should be referred to a solicitor who specialises in agricultural law.

Tenant owes more than six months' rent

If a tenant has built up six months' worth of rent arrears, the landlord can raise an action in the Scottish Land Court to have them evicted at the next Whitsunday (28 May) or Martinmas (28 November). [5] The Land Court will agree to eject the tenant from the holding unless s/he can pay back the arrears or prove that s/he has enough assets (for example, shares, bonds or stock) to safeguard payment of the rent due and an additional year's rent as well. [6]

The tenant will still be entitled to compensation for any improvements s/he has made to the property. [7]

Last updated: 15 February 2021


  • [1]

    s.21(6) Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991

  • [2]

    s.21(6) Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991

  • [3]

    s.21(7)(a) Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991

  • [4]

    s.16A Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991, inserted by s.65 Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003

  • [5]

    s.20(1) Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991 as amended by sch. para.19(a) Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003

  • [6]

    s.20(2) Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act as amended by sch. para. 19(b) Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003

  • [7]

    s.20(3) Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1991