Crofting is a system of landholding which is unique to Scotland and is an integral part of life in the Highlands & Islands. Crofting can deliver a wealth of benefits to crofters and the crofting community in the Highlands and Islands and other designated parts of Scotland.
A croft is a relatively small agricultural land holding which is normally held in tenancy and which may or may not have buildings or a house associated with it. Crofts range in size from less than 1/2 hectare (ha) to more than 50ha but an average croft is nearer 5ha. There are legislative Duties which crofters must comply with these are:
The Crofting Commission are on hand to support and advise crofters on the various options available to them in complying with their duties.
There are 20,867 crofts with 14,969 tenanted crofts and 5,898 are owned. Usually, the crofter holds the croft on the "statutory conditions", which apply to every croft tenancy, and will not have a written lease. Some croft land is now owned because the former tenants have bought that land. There is no control over changes in ownership of croft land, although there is a statutory obligation to advise the Commission, but every change in the tenancy of a croft is regulated by the Commission.
Assignation is a term used in crofting to describe the permanent transfer of a tenancy from one person to another. In a normal year 200 to 300 croft tenancies are assigned. In over half of these the current crofter passes the croft to a member of their family and the majority of the remaining tenancies are transferred to people already known to the crofter. Given the demand we know exists for crofts, we understand the frustration which the lack of available land can produce.
Having said that a number of crofts do come onto the open market each year. Prospective crofters can look for tenancies in local newspapers or may contact crofting solicitors or estate agents to register their interest. Some have found a croft by placing a 'wanted' advertisement in the relevant local newspaper.
The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) is compiling a list of those interested in acquiring a croft and will provide information on how to find a croft and vacant crofts available. You can contact them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01599 530005.
This is only the beginning of the process. Obtaining a croft tenancy is at least as difficult as buying a particular house in a sellers’ market. There are also certain legal requirements. The Commission does not own crofts and cannot act as an agent for anyone seeking a croft.