The Scottish Government is conducting a survey of the condition of rented accommodation in all types of agricultural tenancies.

At present rented accommodation held under agricultural tenancies is only subject to a "tolerable" standard which, in other circumstances falls far below the minimum repairing standard expected of private rented housing. In the long term the Scottish Government would like to bring the quality of agricultural housing conditions in line with other rented accommodation in Scotland. This survey will cover all housing on agricultural tenancies and small landholdings including the farmhouse, farm workers cottages and sublet accommodation.

Christopher Nicholson, Scottish Tenant Farmers Association (STFA) Chairman said: "STFA has been concerned for a number of years about the state of farmhouses and the conditions in which some tenants are expected to live. Housing held under an agricultural tenancy has always been exempt from the Housing Acts, with the landlord's responsibility being limited to renewing and replacing what was provided at the start of the lease. Improvements are expected to be carried out by the tenant. In practice, most tenants have improved farmhouses and other cottages to bring them up to an acceptable standard, and, indeed there are some landlords who have also invested in housing accommodation.

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"However there are still many tenants occupying houses which are well below minimum repairing standards whose landlords are reluctant to even carry out their basic obligations to keep farm buildings wind and watertight. In these situations, tenants have been unwilling to invest in improving the farmhouse without any guarantees of compensation at the end of their tenancies, especially where landlords have not fulfilled their side of the bargain."

Mr Nicholson went on: "STFA would strongly advise all tenants' wives and families to seize the initiative and complete and return the survey as soon as they can. This is the first comprehensive survey to be carried out on the condition of the housing stock on tenanted holdings and will help build a picture of, and give an indication of the scale of the task to bring all tenanted housing up to acceptable standards.

"Housing standards have improved immeasurably over the last few decades and there is no reason why the tenanted sector should lag behind the rest of society. Landlords must be prepared to carry out their renewing obligations during the tenancy, and if they are not prepared to invest in improving the stock, they should not stand in the way of tenants who are prepared to do so and be prepared to treat their tenants' improvements as eligible for compensation should the tenancy come to an end."