Publication - Advice and guidance

Agricultural holdings and tenant farming guide

Published: 15 Nov 2019

A guide to agricultural holdings and tenant farming.

Agricultural holdings and tenant farming guide
Tenancy types

Tenancy types

Any agricultural holding tenancy arrangement between a landlord and their tenant farmer is a private agreement between the two parties.  It is permissible for either party to hold one or more of the following tenancy arrangement types.  A landlord may have more than one tenant farmer and a tenant farmer can have one or more landlords.

Grazing Let

This is a 364 day tenancy arrangement where the tenant farmer rents agricultural or farm land for the purpose of grazing livestock on it or for taking a silage crop from it.  Any livestock present must be removed for 1 whole calendar day in every 12 month period.  Agricultural tenancy arrangements without housing or supporting buildings are called 'bare land' lets.

Limited Duration Tenancy (LDT) 

Although no longer available for new tenancy arrangements, an LDT allowed the tenant farmer to rent agricultural or farm land under an agricultural holdings tenancy arrangement for a term of not less than 15 years as introduced by the 2003 Act.  Subsequently, the length of term was reduced to 10 years in 2011, by the Public Services Reform (Agricultural Holdings) (Scotland) Order 2011.  There is no upper limit to the length of this type of tenancy arrangement i.e. could be 99 years long.

Limited Partnership

This is the granting of a traditional agricultural holding tenancy arrangement to a limited partnership, where the landlord is the limited partner and the tenant farmer is the general partner.

Modern Limited Duration Tenancy (MLDT)

This tenancy arrangement type came into force in November 2017.  There is a minimum term of 10 years but the landlord and their tenant farmer can extend the written tenancy arrangement at any time during that period.  There can be a break clause for either party after five years, where the tenant farmer is a new entrant to farming.

Secure Tenancy

A 1991 Act tenancy arrangement or 'secure tenancy' entered into under the 1991 Act or preceding legislation, where a tenant farmer’s security of tenure is protected by the current agricultural holdings legislation.

Short Limited Duration Tenancy (SLDT)

Introduced under the 2003 Act, this is an agricultural tenancy arrangement for a term of not more than 5 years.  It also allows for the two parties involved to agree to convert the tenancy arrangement into a 10 year MLDT.  When converting the SLDT into an MLDT, the start date is deemed to be the date when the SLDT started.

Related information:

  • Tenant Farmers’ Amnesty -  a time limited opportunity which ends on 12 December 2020
  • Rent Reviews  - we provide information to help farmers with the rent review process
  • Pre-emptive right to buy - legislation offers additional opportunities for tenant farmers who have secure 1991 Act tenancies to buy their holding if it becomes available
  • Housing standards - we are committed to improving the condition of this category of home




Telephone: 0300 244 9920

By post:
Scottish Government
Agricultural Holdings Team
Agriculture and Rural Directorate
D Spur
Saughton House
Broomhouse Drive
EH11 3XD