Small landholdings legislation: guide to the law in Scotland

There are only a few Small Landholdings left in Scotland and these are governed by complex, historic legislation. This guide summarises key legal elements for those with an interest.


Conversion of landholding to crofts. Areas designated by the Scottish Ministers are: Moray, Argyll & Bute, North Ayrshire, Kingarth (Bute), Arran, Great Cumbrae and Little Cumbrae.

Crofting Counties – Argyll, Caithness, Inverness, Ross & Cromarty, Sutherland, Orkney and Shetland.

Landholder [1] /Tenant – Includes every existing crofter, every existing yearly tenant, every qualified leaseholder, every new holder, and the successors of every such person in the holding.

Landholding – This includes any right in grazing land held by the tenant or landholder whether solely or with others. Also the site of any dwelling-house erected (or to be erected) on the holding, and of any offices or other structure connected with the dwelling-house.

Martinmas – Scottish term day – 28 November.

Pertinents – Everything connected with or that is part of the tenanted land.

Scottish Land Court – Unlike a common law court such as the Sheriff Court or the Court of Session, it does not have a general jurisdiction. Any party considering applying to the Land Court should look at the Court’s website – – which gives advice on procedure, rules and refers to the Court’s forms. Recent decisions are also available on the Court’s website.

Small Landholding – Where the tenant, or predecessor in the same family, has provided or paid for the whole or greater part of the buildings and/or other permanent improvements without receiving payment from the landlord.

Statutory Small Tenancy ( SST) – Any tenancy where the landlord provided or paid for the whole or greater part of the buildings or other permanent improvements on the holding and the holding would otherwise have qualified as a landholding by reason of its size and the rent paid provided it did not come within any of the exceptions in the Acts. A SST is governed by different rules from a small landholding.

Whitsun – Scottish term day – 28 May.


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