Following the passage of the most recent Land Reform (Scotland) Act through Parliament in 2016, the subordinate legislation required to bring the provisions of the Act into force has now started to appear on the statute books.
Parts of the Act, for example, those amending deer management provisions, came into force as early as June 2016, but it has taken longer for other sections to become operational.
The first commencement order for the Act provided that the Scottish Land Commission was established with effect from 1st November 2016 and that the Commission will be fully operational from 1st April 2017. 1st April 2017 will also see the repeal of the exclusion for shootings and deer forests from valuation rolls although, we understand that information relating to these rights is still being collated and that the liability for business rates for these rights will not be available until after this date.
The provisions of the Act requiring Scottish Ministers to prepare and issue guidance on engaging communities in “decisions relating to land which may affect communities” entered into force on 1st November 2016. However, the Scottish Government must consult on the terms of this guidance before it is issued and laid before the Scottish Parliament for consideration and this process has not yet started.
The Scottish Government’s duty to promote the principles set out in the Land Rights and Responsibilities Statement (covered in more detail here) when exercising its functions will take effect from 1st October 2017.
From 23rd December 2016, the first changes to agricultural holdings legislation contained in Part 10 of the Act entered into force. From this date, the widening of the classes of potential successors, legatees and assignees for 1991 Act and Limited Duration tenancies, together with the narrowing of a landlord’s potential grounds for objection, came into effect.
This date also saw the entering into force of the sections of the Act amending the process for notifying a tenant of certain improvements by a landlord, the procedure for notices of diversification and irritancy notices on the grounds of non-payment of rent provisions.
This commencement order also partially enabled some sections within Part 10 of the Act for the purpose of preparing for further changes to follow agricultural holdings. Specifically, parts of the sections of the Act relating to Modern Limited Duration Tenancies, Repairing Tenancies, the sale of a holding where a landlord is in breach of their obligations in relation to a ‘1991 Act’ tenancy, relinquishment and assignation of ‘1991 Act’ tenancies and rent review were activated, although the overall provisions are not yet in force.
The most recent secondary legislation laid before Parliament on 26th January 2017 provided for the commencement of the three year amnesty for existing tenant’s improvements to come into force on 13th June 2017.
It is expected that the next raft of enabling legislation from Part 10 of the Act relating to agricultural holdings will provide for the introduction of Modern Limited Duration Tenancies and bring into force the sections of the Act removing the requirements for a tenant of a 1991 Act holding to register their interest in land before being able to make use of their pre-emptive right to buy. Before the end of 2017, it is also anticipated that the provisions mentioned above which will permit the sale of a holding where a landlord is in breach of their obligations in relation to a ‘1991 Act’ tenancy and the relinquishment and assignation of 1991 Act tenancies will be brought into force in subordinate legislation. Changes to the rent review process and the introduction of Repairing Tenancies are not expected to take effect until sometime in 2018 but the Scottish Government has not published a definitive implementation timetable and finalising the detail which was missing from these provisions in the Act itself may take more time than anticipated.