Average rent was £39 per hectare in 2014/15 compared to £38 per hectare the previous year.
Rent increased in Less Favoured Areas, which were up three per cent from £25 to £26 per hectare, and in better quality land, which rose by five per cent from £124 to £130 per hectare.
Since most rents are reviewed every three years, the figures imply that increases were on average above three per cent. Rent increases have been above inflation since 2008.
Rents were highest in Fife and the Lothians, with three quarters paying over £75 per hectare. They were lowest in Shetland and Na h-Eileanan Siar, where half of rents were less than £3 per hectare.
Tenanted Agricultural Land in Scotland 2015, published on April 19 by Scotland’s chief statistician, comes just one month after the Scottish Govenment’s annual Farm Accounts Survey showed Scottish farm incomes halved between 2010 and 2014 - the most severe decrease since the BSE outbreaks of the mid 90s.
Scottish Tenant Farmers Association chairman Christopher Nicholson said the figures showed that measures in the Land Reform Bill to link fair rents to farm profitability were long overdue.
He said: “We’re alarmed at the high rent increases landlords are seeking at a time when there’s no clear justification,” he said, adding that many landlords and their agents were ignoring voluntary guidance which encouraged rent changes to follow inflation or farm income levels.
“Stabilisation of the tenanted area over the last two years is welcome. For many years we’ve listened to landlord representatives threatening not to let land due to their dissatisfaction for Scotland’s proposed land and tenancy reform measures, but those threats now ring hollow. Clearly there are landlords on the ground who appreciate that one of the aims of the Land Reform Act is to make limited duration leases fit the needs of landlords.”
Gemma Thomson, NFU Scotland’s legal and technical policy manager, added: “Given the huge pressure on farm businesses, it’s difficult to envisage any circumstances that would support an increase in rents.
“Knowing that rent reviews can be a point of friction between landlords and tenants, the union drove the formation of a code of practice for rent reviews, and insisted on the early appointment of an Interim Commissioner for Tenant Farming ahead of the full time post created within the Land Reform Bill. We encourage any member who has concerns over a tenancy to make contact with NFUS to allow us to refer issues to the Tenant Farming Commissioner, Andrew Thin.
NFUS has already referred a number of issues to him which he has been able to successfully resolve.”