> Partnership Tenancy
High above Doune Park on the Moray Estate in Stirlingshire lies East Brae Farmhouse. It’s been uninhabited since the 1980s when the previous family who were farming there, moved into Doune due to the farm being increasingly unviable. East Brae farm is now part of a contract farm (Doune Farms) and has been part of the Doune Estate of the Earls of Moray since at least the 16th Century.
The farmhouse had fallen into a serious state of disrepair and although the walls were still standing, it was a shell of a building and totally uninhabitable. That was until Steven Morrow came onto the scene with his partner Anne. Steven and Anne were already living on the estate in a traditional rented property, but knew of East Brae and fell in love with its location, views and privacy.
Steven approached the estate, and explained his vision. The terms were settled through negotiation, based on Moray Estate’s partnership template where the tenant gets a lease of up to 20 years at a low rent, in exchange for them taking on the renovation of the property. The vision, in Steven and Anne’s case, is a fully restored property with sufficient land to run a small holding.
The house had no permanent electricity connection and Steven needed to re-open the well to get a basic water supply so they knew that this was a huge undertaking. The estate have helped Steven and Anne along the way in the spirit of true partnership. They helped in getting a Council Tax reduction until the property was habitable as the original reduction was due to its agricultural status. They have also assisted with some issues relating to contractor’s VAT (there is a scheme for reduced VAT on the renovation of uninhabited dwellings). Steven has had a few practical “issues” to deal with, such as getting his caravan up the hill climb, but all the issues have definitely been resolved by working together. The estate have helped financially for the first two years, with more to come later, although Steven has met most of the costs himself. The estate has also offered technical advice and support for the renovation through their Buildings department.
The hope is that the renovation will take no more than another two years to complete and will be renewed after the 20 year period expires. There is no reason to suppose that this won’t happen as there is so much goodwill on both sides. The benefit to the estate is that eventually they will get back a renovated property at the end of the lease(s). In addition they get another pair of eyes in a remote location and a family that contributes to the vibrancy of the estate.
Rory McLeod, Doune Estate Manager said “Moray Estates are delighted to be able to help a young family establish themselves in a rural location. The Partnership works extremely well for both sides as the Morrows get a property that they have shaped themselves on a long-term agreement, whilst the estate gets an unused property back into use and a positive contribution to the long-term vibrancy and sustainability of the estate.”