Two organisations are appealing to Scottish Ministers to ensure that businesses have the ability to supply accommodation for workers in rural areas.
The call from Scottish Land & Estates and NFU Scotland comes ahead of today's consideration of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Bill by the Scottish Parliament.
The organisations' concern is that if the legislation is passed in its current form, rural businesses will be unable to regain possession of their properties in order to house new employees.
They say that as a result, the supply of rural housing could be hindered.
“The tenancy Bill is now at a crucial stage in the legislative process and as a result, it is a pivotal moment for rural businesses and their employees,” says Katy Dickson, Policy Officer (Business & Property) at Scottish Land & Estates.
“Farmers, including tenant farmers and other businesses, will be forced to leave properties empty or let on a holiday basis to ensure that they are available when the business needs to take on staff.”
“This is certainly not what farmers and other rural businesses need or want but they will be forced into this position in order to retain flexibility to meet their business needs.”
Dickson argues that it would be relatively straightforward for the government to provide protection for rural businesses by making an amendment to the Bill today when it is considered at Stage 3.
She cites that protection has already been granted to the Church of Scotland if it wants to house a religious worker and says that it should be extended to rural businesses, who are 'the lifeblood of our countryside communities'.
Gemma Thomson, Legal and Technical Policy Manager at NFUS adds: “Despite concerns being accepted by the Committee at Stage 1 in the Bill’s progress, there is a lack of understanding or acceptance of how significant an issue this is for rural businesses and their employees.”
“If a landlord knows he or she cannot regain a property in order to house a new employee, it will disincentivise from letting rural properties to provide an income stream whilst business needs mean that staff numbers are reduced.”