Community right to buy: information for landowners and creditors

Guidance booklet on Community Right to Buy for landowners and creditors, including implications of an application being received against land you own.

Information for landowners and creditors in a standard security


  • A CRtB is a pre-emptive right to buy land for communities throughout Scotland under Part 2 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003.
  • Community bodies can register an interest in any land, such as churches, pubs, estates, empty shops, woodland, fields and more. Community bodies can also register an interest in rights such as salmon fishing rights and certain mineral rights.
  • A registered interest lasts for five years (from date of approval from Scottish Ministers) and can be re-registered at five-yearly intervals.
  • The sale requires a willing seller. If you decide to sell, the community body is given first option to purchase any registered land.
  • There are specific criteria that must be met by the community body before an interest can be registered or before a right to buy can be consented to, such as evidence of community support. The proposals must be compatible with sustainable development and be in the public interest.

To be aware:

  • The community body must be one of three forms: company limited by guarantee, Scottish charitable incorporated organisation, or community benefit society.
  • It must be registered with Companies House, Office of the Scottish Charities Regulator, or Financial Conduct Authority, as appropriate.
  • The company must be compliant with Section 34 of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and approved by Scottish Ministers before an application can be submitted.
  • The only land in which an interest cannot be registered, called "excluded land", is land which consists of certain rights which are owned separately from the land, for example rights to gather mussels and oysters.


  • It is not a forced sale of land or a compulsory purchase of land.
  • The CRtB process is not intended to be used as a means of blocking developments, or to try to stop you from developing your land.
  • If a community body submits a late application ( i.e. where the land is already on the market or steps have been taken to transfer the land) they are expected to make a stronger public interest case. They must also demonstrate a greater level of community support.
  • A registered interest is not meant to preserve the status quo. Applications should show how plans intend to improve the use of the land for the community's benefit. The community body must demonstrate how the registering of the application by Ministers is in the public interest.
  • CRtB may not always be the most appropriate route for communities to acquire land; they may instead wish to lease the land, work in partnership with you or seek other means of using the land.


Step 1: A compliant application is received from the community body. This can be before the land is marketed for sale or steps taken to transfer land (a "timeous" application), or after such action (a "late" application). If a late application, the community body has more stringent criteria to satisfy.

Step 2: Landowner and creditor in a standard security receive the prohibition notice and a copy of the application.

Step 3: The application is entered into the Register of Community Interests in Land.

Step 4: The landowner and creditor in a standard security have 21 days to send comments back to Scottish Ministers.

Step 5: Any response you send will be forwarded to the community body.

Step 6: Community body has 21 days to respond to your comments (except in a "late" application).

Step 7: Scottish Ministers have 63 days from receipt of the application to send notice of their decision to you and the community body.

Step 8: You can appeal Scottish Ministers' decision within 28 days of the decision being made.

Step 9: If Scottish Ministers approve a late application, it is deemed that you have given notice of the proposed transfer, meaning that the right to buy has been "activated".

While a registered interest is in place you can still:

  • Rent, develop and use the land in whatever way you wish, whilst ensuring that you fully comply with any relevant law, such as planning legislation.
  • While an interest is registered in relation to your land, there is a prohibition on sale of the land. There are exemptions to the prohibition in the Act (section 40(4)) which allows you to transfer land in certain circumstances, e.g. transfer as a gift, or certain transfers between spouses or civil partners.
  • If you make a transfer of land which is permitted by section 40(4) you must inform Ministers of the transfer and provide the details of the new landowner.
  • If your contact details or information relating to a creditor in a standard security change you must inform Ministers.


  • As long as an interest is registered in relation to your land a prohibition to sell to anyone other than to the community body will be in place, although you will be permitted to make a transfer of land in certain circumstances (Exempt Transfers - section 40(4)).
  • When you decide to sell the land, you must inform the community body and Scottish Ministers.
  • Scottish Ministers will then ask the community body to confirm whether it intends to exercise its right to buy.
  • Should the community body decide to exercise its right to buy, provisions and timescales will apply in accordance with the Act. A ballot will be conducted to obtain evidence of community support, and the community body will be expected to submit evidence ( e.g. a feasibility study or business plan) in order for Scottish Ministers to consider if the community body should be permitted to proceed with the right to buy.
  • The community body is required to pay either:
    • the amount agreed by you and the community body;
    • if no agreement reached, then full market value for the land as assessed by an independent valuer; or
    • if the value assessed by the valuer is appealed, an amount determined by the Lands Tribunal.
  • Parties have eight months (from the community body deciding to exercise its right to buy) to conclude the purchase, although this can be extended by agreement by both parties.


The Community Right to Buy page:

Register of Community Interests in Land:

Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003:

Community Right to Buy (Scotland) Regulations 2015:


By post to:

Scottish Government
Community Land Team
Q Spur, Saughton House
Broomhouse Drive
EH11 3XD

By telephone: 0300 244 9822

By email:


Back to top