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Renting or buying a croft

To rent or buy a croft, or if you're inheriting one, you’ll need permission from the Crofting Commission. The commission is a government team that regulates crofts and makes sure land is being well used.

A croft is an area of land used for agriculture. Crofts sometimes have farm buildings or houses on them.

Check the Crofting Commission's website for advice, contact details and application forms.

Finding a croft to rent or buy

Most crofts are in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. To find a croft, check advertisements online and in local papers, such as the:

  • Oban Times

  • Stornoway Gazette

  • West Highland Free Press

  • Shetland Times

  • Press & Journal

If you join the Crofting Federation, you can register on their waiting list for a croft.

If a crofter wants to give you their tenancy

A tenant of a croft can:

  • sublet their croft to you

  • transfer their croft tenancy to you, which is called assigning

In both cases, they'll need to get permission from the Crofting Commission before you can become the tenant.

Renting a croft

Before you rent a croft the landlord will need permission from the Crofting Commission to rent to you. You’ll both need to fill out the Crofting Commission's application form.

In your application you’ll need:

  • the croft name

  • to show how you plan to use the croft

  • to show what skills and experience you have

The commission will want to check things like:

  • you'll use the land well, by farming it

  • you'll live within 20 miles of the croft

  • no-one in the local community objects to you crofting the land

If the commission refuses your application, you’ll get a chance to appeal.

Your rights if you rent a croft

Check your rights if you’re a crofter

Buying a croft

Before you buy a croft get the land surveyed. The Crofting Law Group can help you find a crofting surveyor.

Get legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in crofting law. They can make sure the terms of the sale are fair.

Your responsibilities if you buy a croft

As the landlord of the croft, you must make sure it is:

  • occupied and the land is being used

  • not left vacant for over a month

  • listed on the Register of Crofts

You must let the Crofting Commission know about the purchase so they can register it. You must do this within 1 month of buying the croft. If you do not, you could be fined.

Tell the commission what you intend to do with the land. This could be living on the croft and working the land yourself, or renting it out.

If you leave the croft vacant for too long, the commission could advertise for a new tenant and arrange a lease.

If you do not want to work the land or rent it out, you'll need to make sure the land is decrofted. Get legal advice before decrofting the land, as the terms of the sale may not allow you to do so.

If you want rent the croft out

Contact the Crofting Commission. They can find a tenant who is suitable and has the required skills to cultivate a croft.

If you find your own tenant, you'll need permission from the commission to rent the croft to them.

Once you have a proposed tenant, you must advertise the let in a local paper. This allows the local community to object if they have concerns.

Turning land you own into a croft

You may be able to convert land you already own into a croft. You can only be able to do this in certain parts of the country.

Follow the Crofting Commission’s guidance on creating a new croft. You’ll need their permission to create a new croft.

Inheriting a crofting tenancy

A family member can leave you their crofting tenancy in their will. Inheriting a tenancy is sometimes called succession.

You must tell the landlord and the Crofting Commission that you have inherited the tenancy. If you do not do this within 12 months of the person’s death, you might not be able to inherit the croft.

In this case, a family member means:

  • a partner, including husband, wife or civil partner

  • a partner’s siblings

  • a sibling or parent

  • a child, including stepchildren

  • a grandchild, and their partners

  • an aunt, uncle, nephew or niece

If you inherit a croft from someone who is not a family member

The landlord can object to you inheriting the tenancy. The commission will then decide if you can take on the tenancy.

If you disagree with a decision of the commission, you can appeal in the Land Court.

Resources for crofters

  • The Crofting Commission has advice for crofters on their website. They can be contacted directly for advice and support

  • The Scottish Crofting Federation provides information about crofting. They have a legal helpline for members

  • RSABI gives farmers and crofters emotional, practical and financial support. They have a helpline if you need to talk to someone

Last updated: 19 January 2023

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This content applies to Scotland only.

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