I’m thinking of buying a house in Skye as an investment and as a second home. The house comes with some land and is described as a croft. If I buy the property, can I use the land as a garden?

If your goal is to buy a second home as an investment, a croft is not a good fit given the need to comply with crofting law.

A croft is a type of land holding and not a house, although many crofts have houses on them. Crofts are regulated by legislation that imposes significant control aimed at ensuring they are lived on and actively used in order to protect and promote the sustainability of rural communities. This control imposes certain duties that will apply if you purchase a croft and become an 'owner-occupier crofter'.

Crofters must comply with the following duties:

  • to be ordinarily resident on, or within 32 kilometres of, the croft;
  • to cultivate and maintain the croft, or put it to some other 'purposeful use'; and
  • not to misuse or neglect the croft.

If you buy the property as a second home and your main residence is not within 32 kilometres, you will not meet the residence requirement. The Crofting Commission regulates crofting and in some circumstances it will consent to a crofter being absent, but consent will not be granted if the crofter’s main residence is elsewhere.

Cultivating a croft means putting it to agricultural use - such as keeping livestock, poultry or bees, growing crops such as fruit and vegetables, and planting trees. 'Purposeful use' is planned or managed use that does not harm the croft, the public interest, or the use of adjacent land. Misuse refers to a croft being used for something other than cultivation which would not be considered 'purposeful'. The duty not to neglect requires meeting basic agricultural and environmental standards.

Occasional use is not compatible with these duties, and it would therefore not be advisable to buy a croft for investment purposes as a second home.

However, a croft house and garden may be removed from crofting control, in certain circumstances, by a process known as 'decrofting'. It would be worth asking your lawyer to check whether this house has been decrofted. If so, it might be possible to purchase the decrofted house and garden, leaving the remaining croft land to be purchased by someone who will meet the duties of a crofter.


Ros James