What is the report about?
The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 brought forward a number of legal changes to agricultural holdings legislation. One element was to introduce a new process of undertaking rent reviews. Following discussions with key stakeholders and the Tenant Farming Commissioner, the Scottish Government commissioned this research to directly seek the views of tenant farmers on the current rent review process.
What did we do?
This survey of tenant farmers in Scotland was carried out using a mixed methodology comprising a combination of postal, online and telephone interviews. All tenant farmers in Scotland were invited to take part in the research. A total of 1,025 responses were received, a 20% response rate from the tenant farmer population. Of these responses, 80% (816 responses) were completed by post, 16% were completed by telephone (166 responses) and 4% were submitted online (43 responses). This overall level of return provides robust data.
What did we learn?
- Over half of tenant farmers who responded (53%) said they were very or fairly satisfied with the whole rent review process compared to 15% who said they were very or fairly dissatisfied. The remaining 32% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
- Almost half of tenant farmers who responded (47%) said that they find the rent review process very or fairly easy compared to 16% who find the rent review process very or fairly difficult. 37% said the process was neither easy nor difficult.
- Tenant farmers most commonly said that their rent was reviewed every 3-5 years (46%) and 9% said their rent was reviewed every 6-10 years (9%). However, 32% said that there was no set timescale for review and 11% said their rent had never been reviewed. Where respondents could recall when their most recent rent review was, 59% said this was within the last 5 years, 27% said it was between 5 and 10 years ago and 14% said it was more than 10 years ago.
- The vast majority had not had any significant disagreements with their landlord during the rent review process (79%). Where respondents did have disagreements, this tended to be regarding the rent review itself (11%), fixed equipment (9%) or housing (8%).
- Of these individuals the most common course of action taken to resolve disputes was talking with a professional advisor (50%) or the landlord (50%) to find a solution.
- When asked what could be done to improve their experience of any aspect of the current rent review process the most common responses were:
- Rent should take into account factors such as type of land, repairs or productivity (12%)
- Dissatisfaction with agents (8%)
- Simplify the process/ legislation (6%)
- Better communication between tenants, landlords and other parties (6%)
- Almost two thirds of respondents (64%) were either not very familiar or not aware of the current rent review legislation. Where this was the case, tenant farmers were less likely to be satisfied with the whole rent review process and less likely to find the process easy than where respondents said that they were very or fairly familiar with the legislation.
- The majority of tenant farmers were male (88%) and over 60 (52%).
- Almost half of all tenancies (42%) had been held by the tenant farmer or their family for 50-100 years and 12% had held the main tenancy for more than 100 years. 10% of tenancies had been held for under 10 years.
What will we do?
Scottish Government will be working with the Tenant Farming Advisory Forum (TFAF) to take forward further work on rent reviews.