Section 6 — Assignation, subletting and termination of short limited duration tenancies

Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Bill: Stage 3 – in the Scottish Parliament at 10:00 am on 12th March 2003.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party 10:00 am, 12th March 2003

That takes us to group 3, which contains amendments to provisions for the assignation, subletting and termination of short limited duration and limited duration tenancies. Amendment 6 is grouped with amendments 7 and 8.

Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

Amendment 6 would insert the phrase

"Unless otherwise agreed in writing," at the beginning of section 6(1). The effect would be to give landlord and tenant the freedom to contract out of the provisions in section 6, which I believe are too restrictive and for which flexibility should be provided. Amendment 6 would give flexibility to both parties to contract out of the statutory provision, if they so agree.

Amendment 7 would require the agreement between a landlord and a tenant to terminate a short limited duration tenancy on a date that is different from the originally agreed termination date to be "in writing", because a degree of formality is surely preferable. Putting the agreement to terminate in writing would provide clarity and certainty and would enable the easier resolution of any disputes that might arise.

Amendment 8 would ensure that a tenant must give a landlord at least 60 days' notice of any intention to assign a lease. The bill as drafted specifies no such notice period. A 60-day notice period is a practical time scale, which would allow for the 30 days in which the landlord is entitled to object under section 7(4) and for a further period that would allow any dispute to be resolved before a proposed assignation took place.

I move amendment 6.

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

As Murdo Fraser said, his amendment 6 would provide for a tenant in an SLDT to assign their interest or sublet the land, and his amendment 7 would require any termination to be in writing. I am reluctant to make changes at this stage on matters for which there has been no demand for change from the tenants and landlords who were involved in the inclusive process of developing the bill. I share Fergus Ewing's view that the thrust of the bill is to improve the balance between tenant and landlord. A feature of the NFU Scotland and Scottish Landowners Federation agreements was that SLDTs should not be assignable, and a tenant should not be able to sublet their interest in an SLDT. We have received no calls from the industry, including tenants, either against that proposal or in favour of the proposal that the termination of SLDTs be in writing. Accordingly, I cannot support amendments 6 and 7.

I am also not persuaded by the case for amendment 8, which is unnecessary because it does not affect the 30-day period that section 7(4) provides for a landlord to withhold consent to a proposed assignation. If a landlord does not respond within that time scale, either to withhold consent or to acquire the tenant's interest, there appears to be no point in delaying further the tenant's ability to assign. Crucially, I understand that we have received no expressions of concern—other than from the Law Society of Scotland—about either that issue or the grounds on which a landlord may withhold consent under section 7(3). If landlords are comfortable with the existing provisions, I can see no reason for extending them.

Photo of Mike Rumbles Mike Rumbles Liberal Democrat

I oppose amendment 8 because Murdo Fraser seems to be slightly unbalanced—perhaps that is not so strange for him. However, amendment 8 would unbalance the bill. Murdo Fraser was happy with and did not oppose the 30-day notice period that amendment 45 proposes. As the minister said, a landlord will have 30 days in which to register his objection, so the proposed 60-day notice period is unnecessary and rather unbalanced.

Photo of Fergus Ewing Fergus Ewing Scottish National Party

I do not agree that there is a case for amendments 7 or 8. However, amendment 6, which is sponsored by the Law Society, raises a serious point to which there cannot be any possible objection: if both landlord and tenant agree, an SLDT should be capable of being assigned. Amendment 6 would create the facility for that to occur, but it could not occur without the agreement of both parties. For that reason, we support, on this occasion, the Law Society's amendment 6, which is in Murdo Fraser's name. However, I do not promise that we will break the trend too frequently during the debate.

Photo of Ross Finnie Ross Finnie Liberal Democrat

I have nothing to add. The relevant sections were drafted as part of the NFUS-SLF agreement. The clear indication was that SLDTs should not be assignable and I am not persuaded that we have had evidence to back any proposed change at this stage.

Photo of Murdo Fraser Murdo Fraser Conservative

I listened with interest to the minister's comments, on the basis of which I have decided not to press amendment 8. However, I believe that amendments 6 and 7 would provide some clarity in the law and, as it is the view of the Law Society that they would improve the bill, I intend to press them.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 6 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 3

For: Adam, Brian, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Fergusson, Alex, Fraser, Murdo, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Grahame, Christine, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Johnstone, Alex, Lochhead, Richard, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLeod, Fiona, McLetchie, David, Morgan, Alasdair, Mundell, David, Neil, Alex, Paterson, Mr Gil, Robison, Shona, Scanlon, Mary, Stevenson, Stewart, Tosh, Mr Murray, Ullrich, Kay, White, Ms Sandra
Against: Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grant, Rhoda, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jackson, Gordon, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Maclean, Kate, Martin, Paul, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McLeish, Henry, McMahon, Michael, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Oldfather, Irene, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Simpson, Dr Richard, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Stephen, Nicol, Stone, Mr Jamie, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The result of the division is: For 30, Against 55, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 6 disagreed to.

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The question is, that amendment 7 be agreed to. Are we agreed?

Members:

No.

Division number 4

For: Aitken, Bill, Davidson, Mr David, Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James, Fraser, Murdo, Goldie, Miss Annabel, Johnstone, Alex, McIntosh, Mrs Lyndsay, McLetchie, David, Monteith, Mr Brian, Mundell, David, Scanlon, Mary, Tosh, Mr Murray
Against: Adam, Brian, Alexander, Ms Wendy, Baillie, Jackie, Barrie, Scott, Boyack, Sarah, Brankin, Rhona, Brown, Robert, Butler, Bill, Canavan, Dennis, Chisholm, Malcolm, Deacon, Susan, Eadie, Helen, Ewing, Fergus, Fabiani, Linda, Ferguson, Patricia, Finnie, Ross, Gibson, Mr Kenneth, Godman, Trish, Gorrie, Donald, Grahame, Christine, Grant, Rhoda, Hamilton, Mr Duncan, Henry, Hugh, Home Robertson, Mr John, Hughes, Janis, Hyslop, Fiona, Ingram, Mr Adam, Jackson, Dr Sylvia, Jamieson, Cathy, Jamieson, Margaret, Jenkins, Ian, Lamont, Johann, Livingstone, Marilyn, Lochhead, Richard, Lyon, George, Macdonald, Lewis, Macintosh, Mr Kenneth, Marwick, Tricia, Matheson, Michael, McAllion, Mr John, McAveety, Mr Frank, McCabe, Mr Tom, McLeish, Henry, McLeod, Fiona, McNeil, Mr Duncan, McNeill, Pauline, McNulty, Des, Morgan, Alasdair, Morrison, Mr Alasdair, Muldoon, Bristow, Mulligan, Mrs Mary, Munro, John Farquhar, Murray, Dr Elaine, Neil, Alex, Oldfather, Irene, Paterson, Mr Gil, Peacock, Peter, Peattie, Cathy, Radcliffe, Nora, Robison, Shona, Rumbles, Mr Mike, Scott, Tavish, Smith, Elaine, Smith, Iain, Stephen, Nicol, Stevenson, Stewart, Stone, Mr Jamie, Ullrich, Kay, Wallace, Mr Jim, Watson, Mike, White, Ms Sandra, Whitefield, Karen, Wilson, Allan

Photo of George Reid George Reid Scottish National Party

The result of the division is: For 12, Against 73, Abstentions 0.

Amendment 7 disagreed to.