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Inheriting a crofting tenancy

This page looks at what you need to do if you are left a crofting tenancy in someone's will. The situation will differ depending on whether the person who bequeathed you the tenancy was a member of your family or not.

What happens if I inherit a croft?

Crofting tenants have the right to leave their tenancy to anyone they like, although they can't leave it to a company, organisation or institution.

If you are left a crofting tenancy in someone's will, you (or the deceased tenant's executor) must let the landlord of the croft and the Crofters Commission know about this within 12 months of the tenant's death. If you don't, the bequest becomes null and void, and you won't be able to take over the tenancy.

What if I've been left a tenancy by a member of my family?

A person counts as a member of your family if they are your:

  • husband, wife or civil partner
  • partner (provided they don't have a husband, wife or civil partner and you've been living together on the croft for at least two years)
  • brother or sister or their husband, wife or civil partner (including half or adopted brothers and sisters)
  • husband, wife or civil partner's brother or sister
  • father or mother
  • son or daughter or their spouse or civil partner (including adopted children or children by marriage or civil partnership)
  • partner's son or daughter, provided that the son or daughter has been living with you on the croft for at least two years
  • grandchild or their spouse or civil partner
  • aunt or uncle
  • nephew or niece.

If you inherit a crofting tenancy from a family member, you'll be able to take over the tenancy automatically, provided you let the Commission know about the bequest in time.

What if I've been left a tenancy by someone who isn't a member of my family?

If you inherit a crofting tenancy from someone you aren't related to, the landlord who owns the croft has a right to object to the Crofters Commission.

The Commission will give you and the landlord a chance to make representations, setting out your cases. If they believe the landlord's objections are valid, they can declare the bequest null and void, which means you won't inherit the tenancy. However, if they don't think the landlord's objections are strong enough, they will accept you as the tenant.

Both you and the landlord can appeal to the Land Court if you're not happy with the Commission's decision.

What happens when I take over the tenancy?

You'll take over the tenancy with the same terms and conditions as the deceased tenant had, and will become responsible for paying the rent for the land, and any other bills.

You will also need to pay off any debts related to the tenancy (such as rent arrears), and any expenses built up by the executor between the death of the tenant and the time you took over the tenancy. If there's any argument over how much these expenses should be, you can ask the Land Court to decide on an amount for you.

Bear in mind also that a crofting tenancy (and therefore its market value) is an asset of the deceased person's estate, so if they had any debts, the tenancy can be used to pay them off. If the deceased tenant had a lot of debt, this may mean you won't be able to inherit the tenancy. Read the Scottish Government's leaflet about what to do after a death to find out more about this, and talk to a solicitor if you have any problems.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • If you do inherit a croft you or the will's executor must let the Crofters Commission know about this within 12 months of the tenant's death or the bequest becomes null and void.
  • If the person leaving you the croft is a family member you can take over the tenancy automatically but if not, the landlord has the right to object and if this happens both yourself and the landlord will need to set out your case to the Crofters Commission.
  • You will take over the tenancy with the same terms and conditions as the deceased tenant and will need to pay off any debts related to the tenancy.

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