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Buying a croft on the open market

There are around 150 owner-occupied crofts for sale on the open market each year. This page explains how to go about buying a croft and what your rights and responsibilities will be.

Can I buy a croft?

In 1976, tenant crofters were given the right to buy their croft if they chose. It's therefore now possible to buy an owner-occupied croft on the open market. An owner-occupier doesn't need permission from the Crofters Commission to sell their croft.

Owner-occupied crofts are usually advertised in local papers by estate agents. You can also try placing a 'wanted' advert in a local paper yourself. The Crofters Commission doesn't have a list of crofts for sale.

How much does a croft cost?

The price of a croft will depend on:

  • where it is
  • the quality of the land
  • how high the demand is
  • what the sale includes, for example, a croft house, outbuildings, fences, roads, etc
  • the condition and state of repair of the croft house and any other buildings and fixed equipment included in the sale.

Before settling on a price, you'll need to get the land surveyed - you can find a surveyor who specialises in crofts through the Crofting Law Group website.

The Crofters Commission is not involved in fixing the sale prices of crofts.

What are my rights and responsibilities if I buy a croft?

Owning a croft is not the same as owning a regular home because the use of the land is still regulated by the Crofting Acts. If you buy a croft, legally you won't become a crofter, you'll become the landlord of a vacant croft. This means you have certain responsibilities.

Informing the Crofters Commission of the purchase

When you buy a croft, you must let the Crofters Commission know within one month of the sale going through, so they can amend the information in the Register of Crofts. If you don't do this, you can be fined, as this is an offence.

You should let the Commission know what you intend to do with the land, for example, whether you want to let it out to a crofting tenant, or live on and work the land yourself.

Ensuring the croft isn't left vacant

It's up to the Crofters Commission to ensure that croft land is well used. Therefore, if you don't live on the croft or work the land and the croft is left vacant for over a month, the Crofters Commission can contact you and ask you to submit a proposal outlining your plans for the croft.

If you haven't sent in your proposal within two months, or if the Commission doesn't approve your plans, they can advertise for a new tenant for the croft themselves. They'll then decide which of the applicants to let the croft to, and will work out the terms and conditions of the tenancy with you.

What if I want to let the land to a tenant?

If you want to get a tenant for your croft, rather than live on and work the land yourself, contact the Crofters Commission. They hold a list of people who are interested in taking on crofting tenancies, so can help you find a suitable candidate. You can also try advertising in the local paper. As crofting tenancies are in high demand, it shouldn't be too hard to find a suitable applicant.

The Commission will need to approve your choice of tenant, and you'll also need to place an advert in a local paper to notify people living in the area about the proposed let and give them a chance to object.

When will the Commission intervene?

The Commission will investigate your application (or 'intervene') if:

  • anyone living in the local crofting community has valid objections
  • the proposed tenant lives, or intends to live, more than 10 miles (16 km) away from the croft
  • the proposed tenant already owns or is a tenant of a croft
  • the proposed tenant lacks the knowledge, ability or experience to cultivate a croft or use the land well
  • the proposed tenant is the grazings clerk or a member of the grazings committee
  • the Commission are concerned about the way the proposed tenant will use the land
  • the Commission are concerned that it won't be in the interests of the estate of which the croft is a part or the local crofting community for the tenant to take over the tenancy.

If the Commission refuses to approve the application, you can appeal.

Find out more about getting consent from the Commission.

What rights will my tenant have?

Remember, your tenant will have all the rights of a crofter, including the right to buy the land from you, unless you specifically agree otherwise when you set up their tenancy agreement.

What if my tenant doesn't live on or work the land?

If the Commission discovers that your tenant isn't living on the croft and working the land properly, they have the power to end their tenancy and put a new tenant in their place.

If they're unable to find a new tenant within six months of ending the previous tenant's tenancy, you can ask the Commission for a direction to get the land decrofted, so that the Crofting Acts will no longer apply.However, the Commission will only grant the direction if they're satisfied that the land will be put to good use, and that this will benefit the local crofting community.

Can I get grants or loans if I buy an owner-occupied croft?

If you own your croft but the same economic status as a crofting tenant (for example, a similar income), you may be eligible for a grant from the Crofting Counties Agricultural Grants Scheme (CCAGS), to help with the costs of constructing or improving agricultural buildings and other farm equipment.

Find out more about grants and loans for crofters.

What if I just want to buy a croft house without any land?

If you want to buy a croft house and garden without any croft land, either to live in or to use as a holiday home, you need to make sure that the land has been decrofted first. This means that the Crofting Acts will no longer apply. You should ensure this is a condition of the sale – speak to a solicitor who specialises in crofting law to find out more.

The important points

  • An owner-occupier doesn't need permission from the Crofters Commission to sell their croft.
  • Owner-occupied crofts are usually advertised in local papers by estate agents.
  • Owning a croft is not the same as owning a regular home because the use of the land is still regulated by the Crofting Acts.
  • When you buy a croft, you must let the Crofters Commission know within one month of the sale going through.
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