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Committee supports Long Leases Bill

27 March 2012

Ultra-long leases should be converted to ownership as proposed in the Long Leases (Scotland) Bill, Holyrood's Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee has concluded in its stage 1 report.

The committee has agreed the general principles of the bill, which would convert to ownership the tenant's interest in leases that were originially for at least 175 years and still have more than 100 years to run, unless the tenant opts out.

There are thought to be about 9,000 such leases in Scotland, most for 999 years. The reforms were recommended by the Scottish Law Commission to complete its overhaul of Scots property law and have been taken forward by the Scottish Government. A bill to give effect to the Commission's recommendations fell before the last Holyrood elections due to lack of parliamentary time.

Committee Convener Rob Gibson MSP said: "Tenants’ rights under these ultra-long leases are virtually the same as if they owned the properties in question, and this bill will automatically convert them to ownership.

"The bill allows for the landlords to be compensated when the properties convert.”

Questions were raised with the committee around local authority common good land, held for the benefit of the community, and also the specific status of Edinburgh's Waverley Market. However Mr Gibson said the committee had not been persuaded by the arguments so far that exceptions should be made.

The bill is scheduled to have concluded its stage 1 scrutiny by 27 April 2012.

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