Community right to buy abandoned, neglected or detrimental land: easy read version

A short guide for community groups to Part 3A of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 relating to abandoned, neglected or detrimental land.

Community Right To Buy Abandoned, Neglected Or Detrimental Land: Easy Read Version for Community Groups

Before you apply

  • Have you received your compliance letter? (See Step 1 below)
  • Have you tried to buy the land (and by land we mean land, buildings, inland waters, canals and the foreshore)?
  • Have you conducted a ballot of the eligible voters in your whole community (within the 6 months preceding your application) to demonstrate support for your actions and sent the result to the Community Land Team (within 3 weeks of the result)?
  • Does your company have a Certificate of Incorporation (or equivalent)?
  • If the land is being considered detrimental (as opposed to abandoned or neglected), have you asked the relevant regulator (if there is one) to deal with the issue?

If you answered No to any of these questions, you cannot submit an application under Part 3A.

Step 1 - Compliance

This step can be done well in advance of any application, and is worth doing as soon as possible.

First of all you must ensure that your community group itself is compliant with the Act. You can send your articles of association to the Community Land Team and we will work with you to ensure that they are compliant with the Act.

There are three types of valid structures that your group can take:

  • Company Limited by Guarantee (CLBG) - Regulated by Companies House
  • Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) - Regulated by OSCR
  • Community Benefit Company (BenCom) - Regulated by the FCA

To comply with the Act, there are some differences from the standard format for these structures, but there are model templates on the SG website to help you ensure that your group is compliant with the Act. You will need to register with the relevant body and receive a certificate from that body, confirming that the company has been set up correctly.

Once we are happy, you will receive a letter to confirm that you are "Act compliant". You cannot submit an application without this letter.

Step 2 - The Application

The application form has several sections, and you must complete them as fully as you can. The Community Land Team are happy to work with you to give you guidance on your application, and what we are looking for, but we cannot tell you what to write…that is for you to decide.

There are several key things that you need to demonstrate to us:

  • You have identified the correct owner, as well as any creditors with a standard security over the land.
  • You have identified the land you wish to buy, and all rights and interests in it, and that land is in, or sufficiently near to your community.
  • You tell us why it is in the public interest to allow your community the right to buy that land.
  • Why you think it is wholly or mainly abandoned or neglected or why you think it is causing harm.
  • If you think the land is causing harm, what action you have taken with the relevant regulator.
  • What you plan to do with the land and why your plans are compatible with furthering sustainable development in relation to the land.

When you send your application to us, you must also send it to the owner and any creditors (if there are any).

Once we receive your application, we will check to see if it is complete and compliant. If so, we will invite the owner, any tenants, creditors, owners of adjoining land, and anyone else we feel has an interest in the application, to give us comments on your application.

At the same time, we will issue a public notice about your application, which will also invite views to be sent to us.

At that point, we will place a prohibition on the land. This prevents the owner from taking any steps to transfer the land, until we have completed the application process.

Step 3 - Ministerial Decision

The various parties asked to submit their views must do so within 60 days of your application being received by us.

Once we have those views, we will send them to you for comments, which you must return within another 60 days.

Once we have your comments, Scottish Ministers will make a decision no sooner than 60 days after we receive them. We will give written notice of that decision to you and to everyone who was invited to comment on your application. This notice will explain our reasons and the consequences of that decision (including any rights of appeal)

If that decision is to refuse your application, the prohibition is lifted.

Step 4 - The Purchase

If your application is approved, we will appoint an independent valuer within 7 days, who will then have 8 weeks to determine the market value of the land. Both you and the owner will be asked to make representations in writing about the value, as well as about each other's representations. You will both also have the right to appeal this valuation.

Once you have been informed of the value of the land, you have 3 weeks to let us know if you wish to proceed with the purchase. You then have 6 months from the date that Scottish Ministers consented to your application, to finalise the purchase, unless an extension is agreed between you and the seller.


Any person, including the owner, who has incurred costs in complying with the Act, is entitled to compensation. If the application is refused by Scottish Ministers, then any claim for compensation is made against Scottish Ministers. In all other circumstances, the claim is made against the community body. Any such claims must be fully vouched and must be made within 90 days of the last action for which compensation is claimed.

If a compensation claim is made against the community body, you may, under certain circumstances, be entitled to a grant from Scottish Ministers to pay that claim.


Email: Community Land Team

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