TFC blog: Succession Planning

Succession planning is important in any business and no less so for farming businesses, especially where a tenant wishes to pass on the tenancy to another person, normally someone in the tenant’s extended family. Bob - portrait NEW

Careful thought needs to be given to when and how to make the transfer.

And tenants must follow the correct procedures as failure to do so may, in some cases, lead to the tenancy being terminated.

I have published a guide that outlines the ways in which an agricultural tenancy can be passed on to another person. It includes information on whether and how a tenancy might be assigned during a tenant’s lifetime; bequeathing a tenancy and transfer of a tenancy when someone fails to leave a Will.

The guide summarises some of the legal basics, but I strongly recommend that you should always obtain independent legal advice that’s relevant to your particular circumstances,  and seek advice in good time as some parts of the process have to be completed within a certain time.

Here are some of the basic rules for assignation and succession:

A tenant can only transfer a tenancy to another individual. Tenancies cannot be transferred to a company, firm or club, or to two or more people, unless the landlord agrees.

You can’t normally pass the tenancy to just anybody, unless you have agreement with the landlord. Preferential consideration is usually given to ‘near relatives’ of the tenant (a full list of these potential transferees is in the appendix of the Guide).

There are three main ways to pass on a tenancy: as a lifetime assignation; as a testate transfer when someone dies, they may be entitled to bequeath their tenancy in their Will, and an intestate transfer (where someone dies without making a Will) where the tenant’s executors may still be able to transfer the tenancy to another person.

In each of these situations the landlord has certain rights to object; these are described briefly in our new guide.

Which route is chosen will depend on individual circumstances but, generally speaking, making an  assignation to a ‘near relative’ during the tenant’s lifetime is likely to be the most straightforward.

It is important for tenants to have a plan in place for assignation or succession to ensure that when the time comes, they can make way for the next generation.

Time for action on making use of our land

Chief Executive Hamish Trench talks about the recent work done by the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce. Hamish - portrait 003

POLICY, funding and regulations all need to be joined up – at a national level across Scotland – if we want to tackle the persistent challenge of vacant and derelict land, to bring it back into productive use.

While local initiatives are to be welcomed, the scale of the task is such that we need a national, coordinated approach where priorities for action, finance and support is all aligned.

This week Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce published a Statement of Intent that challenges all sectors in Scotland to play their part . This includes using the rich data Scotland has about vacant and derelict sites to promote opportunities for re- use of land and learning – through demonstration – what changes are needed in our regulatory, policy and finance systems to deliver change. Importantly also, we need to embed an
ethos of social responsibility into our corporate culture, to prevent future sites being abandoned.

The Statement of Intent has been informed by a report and analysis of the different types of sites on the vacant and derelict land register and the challenges of bringing them back into use. Our report highlights some recent – inspiring – examples of derelict and vacant land being regenerated and shows how local authorities and other public agencies have helped drive these projects forward.

We’ve also sought to understand the factors behind a core of so- called “stuck sites” – usually older , larger and derelict sites, some of which have been on the register for decades with a majority in either current or former public sector ownership.

According to the Scottish Vacant and Derelict Land Survey 2017, at least 60 per cent of sites and 66 per cent of vacant or derelict land on the register , is in current or former public sector (now privatised) ownership. It is these “persistently problematic” sites that we most want to tackle could be used to build new homes to limit urban sprawl, provide new allotments and city farms, create new parks and green spaces and generate renewable energy. There’s a real risk if we carry on “business as usual” of further sites being abandoned, in the future.

A key aim of the Taskforce going forward will be to embed a responsible approach to land reuse in corporate culture, so that it ’s increasingly seen as unacceptable to leave land and buildings vacant . We’re determined to promote action.

This means that relevant policies, regulations and funding opportunities must all be joined up, to unlock the opportunity that this unused land represents. And communities must be at the heart of land re- use, through community- led regeneration. This needs a national effort – by Government and other partners – to create the focus so that we make more of Scot land’s land, for more people.