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Crofting

This advice applies to Scotland

What is a croft

A croft is a small agricultural unit. The person who lives on the croft is called a crofter. A croft is the land, not the house the crofter lives in.

Crofts are usually rented. They are often part of large estates where the landowner is the crofter's landlord. 

Sometimes crofters buy their crofts. They must live on the croft or find a tenant.

Crofts often come with the right to graze animals like sheep or cows on an area of land. This is called Common Grazings if the land is shared with other crofts. 

Crofts are located in one of the crofting counties or other areas designated by the Scottish Government.

This includes:

  • Argyll and Bute
  • Arran
  • Caithness
  • Great and Little Cumbrae
  • Inverness 
  • Moray
  • Orkney 
  • Ross and Cromarty
  • Shetland
  • Sutherland.

Differences between crofts and other small agricultural tenancies

The main differences between crofts and other small agricultural tenancies are:

  • security of tenure - crofters have security of tenure and the right to leave the tenancy to one or more people in a will
  • transferring the tenancy - crofters can transfer the croft to a new tenant, if the Crofting Commission agrees
  • fair rents - crofters can have fair rents fixed by the Land Court, if they can't agree with their landlords
  • common grazings - there are special rules about using common grazings
  • location - crofts have to be in certain areas of Scotland.

How to become a crofter

You can become a crofter by:

  • buying a croft - that is presently owner-occupied and becoming an owner-occupier
  • becoming a tenant  - for example, renting a vacant croft or a crofter transfers their tenancy to you
  • subletting - from a tenant crofter for a limited time.

You could also inherit a croft. 

Consent from The Crofting Commission might be needed before you're able to rent or buy a croft. 

Finding a crofting tenancy

Check local newspapers like the Oban Times, Stornoway Gazette, West Highland Free Press, Shetland Times and the Press and Journal.

You can also ask:

  • solicitors and estate agents in the crofting counties
  • estate offices in the crofting counties - they might have a vacant croft
  • the Scottish Crofting Federation - they can add your name to a list of people who are interested in getting a croft. Find out how to add your name on the Scottish Crofting Federation website

You might need the advice of a solicitor. You can ask The Crofting Law Group for details of solicitors with experience in crofting law. You can also check our advice on using a solicitor

Buying a croft you're renting

If you're a tenant of a croft, you can buy it. This means you become the landlord of the croft rather than a crofter. You must rent it to another crofter or live there yourself. 

If you want to buy your croft you'll need a solicitor. You might be expected to pay part or all of the landlord's expenses as well as your own. 

You can ask The Crofting Law Group for details of solicitors with experience in crofting law. You can also check our advice on using a solicitor

Crofting Law Group
Brian Inkster
Inksters Solicitors
The Exchange
142 St Vincent Street
Glasgow
G2 5LA

Tel: 0141 229 0880
Email: brian@inksters.com
Website: www.croftinglawgroup.org

Financial help for crofters

You could be eligible for grants or loans designed for farmers and crofters. You should contact the organisations below for more help. 

You can also check our debt and money advice or speak to an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau. 

If you need information about a croft 

You can search the Crofting Register on the Registers of Scotland website. It's map-based and shows the boundaries of a croft. The register does not have details of all crofts in Scotland.

Crofts and common grazings must register the croft if there's a change to the croft like transferring the tenancy. Voluntary registration is also possible.

You can also search the Register of Crofts on the Crofting Commission's website. This register is larger but doesn't have maps or boundary information. 

Organisations for farmers and crofters

These organisations provide support or represent the interests of farmers and crofters. 

The Crofting Commission

The Crofting Commission is a government department which administers crofting. Its remit is to develop and regulate crofting, and to promote the interests of crofters.

Crofting Commission
Great Glen House
Leachkin Road
Inverness
IV3 8NW

Tel: 01463 663439
Fax: 01463 725067
Email: info@crofting.scotland.gov.uk
Website: www.crofting.scotland.gov.uk

The Scottish Crofting Federation

The Scottish Crofting Federation is a representative body for crofters which provides information about crofting and lobbies government on issues which affect crofters. The Federation also runs a legal helpline for its members. Initial advice (around 15 minutes) is free.

Scottish Crofting Federation
Unit 26
Kyle Industrial Estate
Kyle of Lochalsh
IV40 8AX

Tel: 01599 530005
Fax: 01599 618038
Email: hq@crofting.org
Website: www.crofting.org

NFU Scotland

NFU Scotland is a membership organisation that represents and promotes the interests of farmers and crofters in Scotland.

NFU Scotland
Head Office
Rural Centre - West Mains
Ingliston
Midlothian
EH28 8LT

Tel: 0131 472 4000
Email: info@nfus.org.uk
Website: www.nfus.org.uk

RSABI

RSABI provides emotional, practical and financial support to people involved in farming, crofting or growing. 

RSABI
The Rural Centre
West Mains of Ingliston
Newbridge
EH28 8LT

Tel: 0131 364 4205
Helpline: 0300 111 4166 (Daily 7am to 11pm)
Email:  rsabi@rsabi.org.uk
Website: rsabi.org.uk

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) provides advice, information and resources aimed at increasing the profitability and sustainability of crofts throughout Scotland. SRUC'S SAC Consulting delivers the Farm Advisory Service.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)
SAC Consulting
Website: www.sruc.ac.uk

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