Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Awful news

We are doing all we can to keep our farmhouse.

We live quietly, work constantly on the land, never default on the rent; not once in 120 years, regardless of good or bad years.

My husband's family have always maintained the house and buildings but there comes a point when a rotten timber will no longer take a nail or falls apart when painted. The material is deemed finished 'through fair wear and tear' then it is the owner's responsibility to replace.

The farmhouse roof has crumbled 'through fair wear and tear'. It has covered and protected the house since circa 1800, before that it was thatched. I think it is safe to say that the roof has lasted well.

We have asked that the roof be repaired, to no avail. We have asked for years.

Yesterday, a chap from the council came up to look and informed us that a demolition order be served.
There is nothing we can do as it is the landowner's responsibility.

I asked what would happen if we moved in 'in protest' and the answer was chilling.

Once the demolition noticed was served, we would have 28 days to get out. After the 28 days, we would be put into a B&B, probably in Perth.
The children may be removed to 'a place of safety', if we were to inhabit our farmhouse. Our farmhouse which we pay rent and full council tax for.
Our farmhouse with the polluted water supply which we cannot purify due to the landowner demand that our electricity supply be disconnected.
Our farmhouse and our home.

The Farmer and I are utterly stunned.

We have done nothing wrong but due to an unscrupulous landowner, we must take the brunt of a very unfair system. A very unfair system.

This is the 21st Century Clearances which happen by stealth.

Now is the time to insist that tenant farmers like us are given the chance to buy our homes and cease being vessels which feed these parasitic tics of landowners who cannot or will not fulfil their legal obligation.

Please support the tenant farmer.


  1. Oh, GO. That is awful.

  2. I can't believe you have *no* rights! Surely regular renters do. I assume you've spoken to a solicitor? Or, MN's favourite thing, call the press.


  3. Scottish Agriculture Law is stacked very firmly against the tenant plus issues have to be sorted by the Land Court which is wildly expensive and lengthy. - it makes it untenable for most tenants due to the costs.

    Most tenants have a Land Court insurance but it only covers a fraction of the costs.

    This is a political issue rather than a civil/criminal one.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear that. I agree with the above poster - bring in the press AND speak to a solicitor if you can afford to.

    It is your home and you have worked on it for years, as tenants or not.

    Fingers crossed.

  5. I am so sad to read this and I hope you can get things sorted - yes, get the press involved and highlight this shameful situation.

  6. Unfortunately the authors problems are only the tip of the iceberg, with so much more sadistic and draconian actions going on behind closed doors and in secrecy, where factors are employed to harass and intimidate tenants.

    Too many people in this country are ignorant of how their neighbours in rural areas actually do live,
    in cities or towns there are community obligations
    and where a policeman can be called and where councils can be forced into taking action against Private Landlords, however, in Rural areas the tenants have no such luxuries, the tenants on many 21st century farms are actually being forced to live well below the breadline and in tumbledown homes which are and have been for a very long time well below the tolerable standard.

  7. Came across your blog through a link on twitter. You have all my sympathy. Truly didn't realize such dreadful treatment could be legally metered out today.Awful.

  8. I was pointed to this post by a friend known as Border Reiver. My husband is the tenant farmer of our farm in north Northumberland which we rent from the Northumberland Estates (owned by the Duke of Northumberland). We've had our fair share of problems, mainly due to their greed. Rent increases have been forced on us regularly and they have broken many clauses within the contract. Tenant farmers do have rights, but they usually have to go to extreme lengths to prove them.

    I wish you all the best.
    CJ xx

  9. Just out of interest....

    Who is the landlord?

    Is it a company that has products or services that could be boycotted?

    All the best


  10. Keith - I would love to say but cannot for fear of bitter recrimination.
    There are no products on this estate apart from those produced by the tenant farmers (mainly sheep, cattle and cereal crops)

    This is why things have been hidden as people are terrified to speak out for fear of losing their farms or having land resumed for 'sport'.

  11. GentleOtter

    So, what can we do, if anything?

    Does publicising this help?

    All the best


  12. Keith, thank you.

    Yes, publishing this would help as I hope to show what is happening here and to other tenant farmers.
    I feel grateful that you were willing to forego products from this estate (but there are none on the market)

  13. I'm so sad to hear your news. Could you not get Legal Aid or something to pay for legal action/advice? Could Citizens Advice Bureau or your local MP help? Getting national newspapers or TV interested would surely bring your plight to a wider audience, which would help your cause. In this day and age this cannot be right. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  14. I am so shocked to read your post but then again I'm not shocked. Am reposting it where I can think it may have an impact and will do more when any one can think of anything else we can do.

  15. I'm so sorry to hear this latest news GO. Will tweet this post now.

  16. Hang on in there. A great many people will support you.

  17. Lost my comment when my internet went down.
    I came to this post through ?A Taste of Garlic' and was horrified by the situation in which you have been placed by an unscrupulous rogue.
    If you can get publicity...press, TV, then the landlord will be named and will certainly be on the receiving end of unwelcome attention...but i don't know how to go about it.
    I'll pass on the post and 'follow' to see if there is anything specific you would like people to do.

  18. My father lost his job and home 30 years ago when the farm we'd lived on since the 50s was sold. I think that you should get legal advice as to what the landowners obligations are.

    I lost my home recently too. We managed to find somewhere to rent that is really beautiful. we never thought that things would come right again. They did.

    Don't give up but try to think of the future positively - you never know, you might be saying 'Why didn't we do this before? 'in a years time. came from Taste of Garlic

  19. Anji - that is so sad but I am glad that you now live in a home where you are happy.

    I am full of optimism for the future as I believe that awareness has been raised toward the tenant farmer's archaic oppression and ultimately, the absolute right to buy our own farms.

  20. I am in horror. That is complete b.s. and the owner should be legally required to maintain things such as that.

  21. GO, I have been retweeting your plight. All I can say is that I am horrified that in this day and age people are being allowed to get away with practially making a family homeless. I am hoping that things will take a turn for the better, and I cannot imagine the stress you must be under. I don't know what to say, other than I am so sorry and I am praying for a good outcome!! Hugs!

  22. Have you spoken to your msp? I am sure he/she would intervene. I am an MSP but don't cover your area. However if you contact me I can make sure the correct person sorts it out quickly. The SNP is planning legislation to help tenant farmer and we work closely with their representatives. Very keen however, to hear what more needs to be done for those who struggle with bad landlords. Joan.McAlpine.msp@scottish.parliament.uk

  23. Joan - I have spoken to John Swinney's secretary and she said he was going to write to the estate.

    I had a message passed on through a third party. The estate wish to negotiate with us re the roof and discuss our share of the costs. They have accused us of 'not being committed' to the repairs, not answering letters etc.

    We have been committed to tenant farming this farm for 120 years. How dare they say we are not committed.

    They are prepared to 'waive' the £4000+ bill they hit us with for surveyors fees. We were never once included in any part of the supposed restoration of our house, we never saw plans, were never asked what sort of windows, etc and even worse, the work which we were prepared to do ourselves was included in the final estimate.

    They asked us for a percentage of this estimate and we refused, saying that it was not accurate.
    The last letter I wrote recently, asking for a new roof, received a haughty reply and demanded the £4000+
    I asked for receipts and the legal document which stated that we were liable for this payment.

    I am still waiting to see the receipts but have the letter stating 'there is no document'.

    We have been accused of not signing the final agreement.

    We did not sign it because we never received it.

    If they promise John Swinney that we will get a new roof then I would not believe it even if Alex Salmond himself were to ask.

  24. I came here from Keith's blog in Brittany.
    I assume that you've taken all legal steps to remedy this terrible injustice? Is it now time to contact the media perhaps?
    Name and shame is only dangerous if you are libellous, if you speak the truth there is nothing that They can do to harm you?

    I'll be following your blog with interest and if there is anything we readers can do, please tell us?

  25. Best of luck. I came here from Fly's blog. I've sent a protest to Alex Salmond, for all the good it will do.

  26. Otter mate, you need to keep copies of all your correspondence. Send in a letter detailing every contact they have made and every reply you've done with dates and ask for proof of letters they said they have sent that you have not received. Also detail all the receipts and other things you have asked for and when you asked for them. Send a copy of this letter to your MP and to Alex Salmond. Hold one back for the Press if you don't get a satisfactory response. Shelter are the homeless charity who have a legal section that give free legal advice over the phone to anyone threatened with eviction, you can phone them and speak to them today http://www.shelter.org.uk/
    Let me know if there is anything I can do to help personally. If you need letters of support then I can do that, but I would need your details.
    You've got us all behind you, take strength from that Otter and best of luck mate. x

  27. This is an appalling state of affairs - as Mouse and others have said, please let us know what we can do to help.
    Sending positive energies your way!