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Tenants’ amnesty: The countdown has started

Claire Wilson and James Bowie offer a timely reminder of an approaching deadline.

The deadline for submitting a tenants’ amnesty claim, as set out in the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016, is fast approaching. 

Tenants now have less than a year to take advantage of this opportunity before the deadline of June 13, 2020. 

Initial interest was limited, but recent efforts by the Scottish Government and industry bodies to increase awareness of this opportunity have proved successful. Company-wide, Galbraith has witnessed a significant uptake in applications over the past six months and has been representing both tenants and landlords to prepare and review agreements.   

It is important that both tenants and landlords take measures to ensure agreements are accurate and include all the necessary information to avoid any ambiguity should the agreement be required at the end of the tenancy. 

From experience of working for both landlords and tenants, we have noticed the importance of ensuring the items listed are eligible for the amnesty. Improvements that are included in Part 1 of Schedule 5 do not qualify for inclusion. For instance, the creation of garden grounds is a Part 1 improvement and therefore should not be included in this amnesty process. 

Although time consuming, it is important to review and consider historic files and correspondence which relate to the lease or improvements. This should be done prior to submitting the improvement schedule to your landlord or when reviewing a schedule received from your tenant. It is particularly important to review the repairing and renewing obligations of the lease and any Post-Lease Agreement, as this might affect whether something can be classed as an improvement. 

Similarly, should there be any write off agreements, objections to improvements from the landlord, rent reductions as contribution to improvements or insurance payments, it is imperative to ensure this detail is included in the Amnesty Agreement as again it can affect whether something can be considered as a tenant’s improvement or will affect the value of the improvement should the schedule be used at way go. 

Each amnesty submission is nuanced and can take time, so it is important to start the process early. Although it is the responsibility of the tenant to submit the initial schedule it must then be agreed by both the landlord and tenant as per the Scottish Land Commission code of practice.