Crofting is a system of land tenure that is unique to Scotland and plays an integral role in sustaining rural life in the Highlands and Islands. If you're interested in a croft, it is important to firstly determine its crofting "status". In other words, will you be acquiring an owner-occupied croft, a vacant croft, or a croft tenancy?

If you are purchasing a tenancy, the Crofting Commission, who are the public body responsible for regulating and reviewing all matters relating to crofting, must approve an application for the transfer of the tenancy before you can consider the croft to be legally yours. This is the case even if you have already agreed with the Seller to buy the tenancy. To get approval, you must demonstrate to them how you will fully comply with your crofting duties. On the other hand, if you are buying an owner-occupied croft, you do not require formal approval from the Crofting Commission in advance but must comply with your crofting duties from the date of your purchase.

Whether purchasing a tenancy or an owner-occupied croft, you must fully comply with the crofting duties. These are that all crofters must live on or within 32 kilometres of their croft; must actively cultivate and maintain their croft; and must not misuse or neglect their croft. Failure to comply with these duties can result in enforcement action being taken against you by the Crofting Commission. This could result in the Crofting Commission terminating your croft tenancy or imposing a tenant crofter on your owned croft.

Additionally, it is also worth noting that a number of purchased crofts do not fall within the statutory definition of an owner-occupied croft, and are thus, legally vacant. In such situations, the Crofting Commission can require the owner of the vacant croft to let the croft to a tenant.

Bearing all of this in mind, prior to making an offer on a croft it is vital to ascertain both the status of the croft you are interested in and to discuss in detail with your solicitor how you can ensure you fully comply with all crofting duties upon purchase.

Crofting is a complex legal area, and you should seek advice from a solicitor with expertise in crofting law who will be able to advise on the status of a croft and the best ways to ensure compliance with crofting duties.


Gary Webster


Mure Grant

Trainee solicitor