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Tenant farmers going through the waygo amnesty process are urging fellow tenant farmers to engage in the process or risk losing the benefits.
The three-year amnesty, which started in June 2017, allows landlords and tenants to rectify any outstanding issues around notification of tenants’ improvements which should qualify for compensation when the tenancy comes to an end – a process known as waygo. That window is now closing.
In partnership with Davidson and Robertson Rural, NFU Scotland (NFUS) ran a workshop on waygo for NFUS members at Carloonan Farm, Inveraray last week, hosted by tenant farmer Brian Walker.
The workshop provided practical examples of tenant’s improvements and fixtures alongside discussion about the nature of the improvement and if they are eligible for the amnesty.
NFU Scotland and Davidson and Robertson launched a new free ‘waygo’ helpline – 0131 449 6212 – for landlords and tenant farmers.
Host farmer, Brian Walker of Carloonan Farm said: ‘The tenants amnesty on waygo has proved to be a fairly straightforward process to start, by putting together a list of improvements that have been made to the farm and recording them.
‘Tenant farmers have always felt that they have not had enough support in the past. So here is a great opportunity to show that, when help is offered, that everyone will make the most of it. Otherwise, it may not be offered again.
‘Setting the record straight will not only help the tenant at waygo but make things easier for the landlord as well.
‘And it is better to take a bit of time to do this now, with all the help and support that is available, than to wait until retirement and then have to fight for two or three years at waygo to sort things out.
Argyll and the Islands regional chairman John Dickson, who farms at Scalpsie on the Isle of Bute said: ‘Being a tenant farmer myself, I fully realise the importance of completing an amnesty. This is a one-off opportunity and time is fast running out as we have less than 12 months left to run of the three-year timescale.
‘This will affect all future negotiations with your landlord for yourself and your next generation. I strongly advise all who are pre-2003 tenants to start their amnesty process.
‘This will not sour your relationship with your landlord. In fact, it will help, as it allows both sides to agree a list of what the tenant has contributed to the farm over the years. It will be an invaluable document to have for yourself and your family.
‘The crucial thing to bear in mind is, if you perceive it too difficult a task to do, then talk urgently to an advisor or agent and that is where the waygo helpline set up by NFU Scotland for its members can help.’
Davidson and Robertson director George Hipwell, who organised the waygo event at Inveraray added: ‘The clock is ticking on this finite opportunity. The process, which can often take around six to 12 months, is best conducted without the need for use of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016 and if handled properly can be a chance to improve relations.
‘The team at Davidson & Robertson has been part of amnesty agreements for both landlords and tenants and our experience is that positive outcomes can be achieved. Through our partnership with NFUS, I hope that more tenants and landlords can access the advice they need to complete their amnesty records.’
Tenant farmers Brian Walker (left) and John Dickson (2nd left) urged fellow tenant farmers to get involved in the waygo process at a workshop organised by George Hipwell (right) of Davidson and Robertson Rural at Inveraray.