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Getting approval or consent from the Crofting Commission

This page explains what you need to do to get approval or consent from the Crofting Commission, for example, to assign or sublet your tenancy, or rent out an owner-occupied croft. This page also looks at what you can do if you aren't happy with the Commission's decision.

What do I need to get consent or approval for?

The Crofting Commission is responsible for ensuring that croft land is used well, so that the crofting way of life remains sustainable. To do this, the Commission must approve new crofting tenants, to make sure that they will be able to look after the land properly and contribute to the general well being of the local crofting community.

Therefore, you need permission from the Commission to:

  • rent out your croft, if you own it
  • sublet your croft, if you are a tenant
  • assign your tenancy
  • divide your croft
  • exchange your tenancy with another crofter.

How do I go about getting consent from the Commission?

To get consent from the Commission, you need to use the correct form – you should be able to download this from the Commission website, along with guidance to help you fill it in.

You may need other people to fill in sections of the form as well. For example, if you're a crofting tenant who wants to assign or sublet your croft, the proposed assignee or subtenant will need to fill in a section of the form as well. If you're a landowner wishing to let a croft, you and the proposed tenant will both need to complete sections of the form. This is because the Commission needs to be sure that the person who will be taking over the croft will be able to work the land properly and contribute to the local crofting community. Proposed tenants therefore need to fill in information about their plans for the land, their skills and experience, and what they could do to benefit the local community.

As well as completing the form, you also need to:

  • send in any documents requested (for example, maps or plans)
  • pay a fee (the Commission will let you know how much, if anything, you need to pay)
  • notify your landlord (unless you own the land yourself) or the owner of any common grazing, if your application concerns common grazing
  • put an advert in at least one local paper, to let crofters and other residents in your area know what you're planning and give them a chance to object.

Am I likely to get consent?

If your application is straightforward, the Commission will approve it straightaway (see 'what happens if the Commission doesn't intervene' below). However, they may decide to look into your application (or 'intervene') if:

  • your landlord or anyone else affected by your proposals has valid objections to it, or
  • the Commission is concerned that the proposal would adversely affect:
    • the interests of the estate the croft is on, or
    • the interests of the local crofting community, or
    • the interests of the public at large, or
    • the sustainable development of the crofting community, or
  • you haven't provided enough information for the Commission to come to a decision, or
  • the Commission has other reasons to look into your application – these reasons will vary depending on what you want to get consent for.

If the Commission decides to intervene, they'll have to notify you and, if relevant, your landlord and any objectors, to let you know why.

Who can object to my proposal?

The following people can submit written objections to the Commission within 28 days of your notification:

  • your landlord (unless you own the land yourself)
  • any member of the crofting community who lives near your croft (or shares in the common grazing, if your application concerns this)
  • anyone else who may be affected by your proposal.

Once the 28 days have passed, if there are any objections, the Commission has to look into your application, unless they consider the objections to be trivial or unreasonable.

What happens if the Commission doesn't intervene?

If there are no objections and the Commission sees no reason to examine your application more closely, they will approve your application straight away and make the necessary changes to the Register of Crofts. They'll also let you and, if relevant, your landlord and any objectors know that the application is approved and can be implemented.

What happens if the Commission does intervene?

Once the time for objections is up, if the Commission decides they do need to intervene, they will let you and, if relevant, your landlord and any objectors know why within the next 21 days. They'll also tell you about your right to appeal to the Land Court (see 'can I appeal' below). The Commission will then decide whether or not to approve your application.

Will there be a hearing?

You, or anyone else with an interest in the application, can ask for a hearing to be held before the Commission makes its decision. If the issue is particularly complicated or difficult, the Commission might decide to hold a hearing anyway.

If no hearing is held and your application is then turned down, you can ask for a hearing after the Commission has made their decision, to give you a chance to make your case in person.

Hearings are usually held in public and advertised in the local paper, so anyone can attend, but in some situations the Commission may decide it's better to hold the hearing in private.

If a hearing is to be held, you'll be given at least 14 days' notice to prepare. Hearings are designed to be straightforward for everyone taking part, so you shouldn't need a solicitor to represent you. You can put your case in Gaelic if you prefer.

You can download a leaflet with more information about hearings from the Crofting Commission.

How does the Commission decide?

The Commission considers each application on its own merits, balancing the needs of the applicant with the development of the crofting community as a whole, to ensure that the crofting way of life remains strong in that area. Crofting townships vary greatly, so what is right for one area may not be suitable for another. For example, if a croft's agricultural land is poor, the Commission may agree to let it to a tenant who doesn't have much agricultural experience, but has other skills that would benefit the local community.

The Commission will write to you and, if relevant, your landlord and any objectors to let you know their decision and why they made it. They may attach conditions to the decision – for example, they may give you permission to sublet your tenancy, providing that the new tenant doesn't change the way the land is used.

Can I appeal?

If you're not happy with the Commission's decision, you can appeal to the Land Court, within 42 days of the decision being made. The Land Court can:

  • confirm the Commission's decision
  • order the Commission to come to a different decision
  • impose a different (or no) condition.

The Land Court's decision is final.

You cannot appeal to the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman about a decision made by the Crofting Commission.

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The important points

  • The Crofters Commission must approve new crofting tenants, for example if you wanted to rent out or sublet a croft.
  • Whoever you're planning on allowing to croft on the land, they and you will need to fill out parts of a form for the Commission to show their plans and experience.
  • When you submit your application, you must also place an advert in a local paper, and there are 28 days for people to register objection but only people affected by the change can object.
  • If you're not happy with the Crofters Commission's decision, you can appeal to the Land Court but you must do it within 42 days of the Commission's decision.

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