Committee supports the end of ultra-long leases in Scotland

26/03/2012

Ultra-long leases should no longer exist in Scotland according to a report published today by the Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee.

The Committee has supported the proposed restructuring of this aspect of land law in Scotland by recommending the general principles be agreed to of the Long Leases (Scotland) Bill.

The Bill will now go forward for debate by the full Parliament.

The Bill is the same as the bill in the last session of Parliament, which, owing to lack of Parliamentary time, fell at the dissolution ahead of the 2011 election.

It seeks to convert ultra-long leases into ownership, unless the tenant choses to opt out.  It follows work done by the Scottish Law Commission on its series of legislative reforms to Scotland’s property law.

Committee Convener Rob Gibson MSP said: “Our Committee is recommending that Parliament supports the general principles of this Bill.

"Tenants’ rights under these ultra-long leases (which were let for 175 years and have more than 100 years left to run) 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.”

The Scottish Government estimates there are around 9,000 ultra-long leases in Scotland, most of which are for 999 years.

During the consideration of the Bill, questions around common good (a fund of money and assets owned and administered by each local authority in respect of each former burgh within the area of that local authority) were raised.

Evidence was also received on the status of Edinburgh Waverley Market and also whether this site specifically could be exempted from the Bill

On these matters, the Committee Convener added: “Our Committee is not persuaded by the arguments made thus far to exempt ultra-long leases on common good land.

"In terms of Princes Mall, it was not for the Committee to decide whether or not this site is part of Edinburgh’s common good assets and on the question of making a specific exemption for this site, the committee believes the argument has yet to be made”

Background

The Bill is scheduled to have concluded Stage 1 scrutiny by 27 April 2012.

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