Small landholdings in Scotland: legislation review

Review of the legislation governing small landholdings in Scotland and supporting consultation analysis.

Annex 2: Legislation Governing Small Landholdings

The Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886 - provided a statutory framework governing the relationship between tenants and landlords over small landholdings where only the land (as opposed to the house and other structures) is leased. This gave tenants' rights of security of tenure, succession, fair rents and compensation for improvements. However, the 1886 Act was restricted to qualifying tenants in seven counties in the Highlands and Islands. [115]

The Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911 - The purpose of the Act was " to encourage the formation of small agricultural holdings in Scotland and to amend the law relating to the tenure of such holdings (including crofters' holdings)".

The 1911 Act: -

  • Provided that the Crofters Acts were to be read as if the expression " landholder" were substituted for " crofter" and that the Act " shall have effect throughout Scotland". In other words, it extended the application of the Crofters Acts to the whole of Scotland.
  • Created two types of small landholder tenancies, that of "landholder" or "Statutory Small Tenancy". The former, and more common form of tenancy, is one where the tenant or his predecessors have supplied all the fixed equipment. The latter, where the landlord has provided the fixed equipment or the majority of same.
  • Gave extra rights to existing small holders outside the Crofting Counties.
  • Obliged the Board to compile a register of small holdings. The register, started in 1912, was suspended during WW1 and never reinstated.

Land Settlement (Scotland) Act 1919 - Following the end of WWI and the increased demand for land settlement following demobilisation, this Act amended and extended acquisition of land and a compulsory element to the creation of small landholdings.

Small Landholders and Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1931 - This Act amended the Small Landholders (Scotland) Acts, 1886 to 1919, and the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1923.

The Crofters (Scotland) Act 1955 - This Act re-introduced the separation between croft tenancies and other small landholdings, which continued to be held under the Small Landholders Acts 1886-31. It also converted all small landholdings in crofting counties into crofts. The Crofting (Scotland) Act 1991 consolidated the legislation on crofting and repealed and replaced the 1995 Act. The 1993 Act was later amended by the Crofting Reform etc. Act 2007 and the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010.

Acts collectively referred to as the Small Landholders Acts 1886 - 1931 (key legislation is highlighted in bold).

  • Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act 1886
  • Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act 1887
  • Crofters Common Grazings Regulation Act 1891
  • Congested Districts (Scotland) Act 1897
  • Crofters Common Grazings Regulation Act 1908
  • Small Landholders (Scotland) Act 1911
  • Small Holdings Colonies Acts of 1916
  • Small Holdings Colonies (Amendment) Act of 1918
  • Land Settlement (Scotland) Act 1919
  • Small Landholders and Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 1931

Other Legislation Related to Small Landholders Issues

  • Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993
  • Crofting Reform etc. (Scotland) Act 2007
  • The Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2010
  • The Crofting (Designation of Areas) (Scotland) Order 2010
  • Scottish Land Court Act 1993
  • Succession (Succession) Act 1964
  • The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2016


Email: Claudine Duff

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