Rural sector appeals for new tenancy bill to safeguard housing for employees
Scottish Land & Estates and NFU Scotland have appealed to Scottish ministers to ensure that businesses have the ability to supply accommodation for employees in rural areas in forthcoming tenancy legislation.
The Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill is to be considered at Stage 3 by the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
Prior to this debate, each organisation has written to ministers and expressed their deeply-held concerns that rural businesses will not be able to regain vacant possession of a property in order to house a new employee should the legislation be passed in its current form. As a result, they argue that the supply of rural housing could be hindered rather than helped as landlords try to maintain flexibility for future growth.
Katy Dickson, policy officer (business & property) at Scottish Land & Estates, said: “The tenancy Bill is now at a crucial stage in the legislative process and as a result, it is a pivotal moment for rural businesses and their employees.
“We are making a final appeal to ministers to see the problems that could be created and to introduce safeguards for gaining vacant possession of a property where it is needed for a new employee.
“Farmers, including tenant farmers and other businesses, will be forced to leave properties empty or let on a holiday basis to ensure that they are available when the business needs to take on staff. This is certainly not what farmers and other rural businesses need or want but they will be forced into this position in order to retain flexibility to meet their business needs.
“It would be straightforward for the government to provide adequate protection for rural businesses by way of an amendment at Stage 3. Protection is given to landlords such as the Church of Scotland who may want to regain vacant possession of a property in order to house a religious worker. We appeal to the Ministers to extend this protection to rural businesses who, working with their employees, are the lifeblood of our countryside communities.”
Gemma Thomson, legal and technical policy manager at NFUS, said: “Despite concerns being accepted by the Committee at Stage 1 in the Bill’s progress, there is a lack of understanding or acceptance of how significant an issue this is for rural businesses and their employees.
“If a landlord knows he or she cannot regain a property in order to house a new employee, it will disincentivise from letting rural properties to provide an income stream whilst business needs mean that staff numbers are reduced.”