The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 provides an opportunity for rural communities and crofting communities to buy land.
Under Community Right to Buy if a rural community is interested in buying land this depends on the landlord deciding to sell the land. The community can register an interest in the land, then if the land comes up for sale they have first choice to buy the land.
Under Crofting Community Right to Buy, crofting communities have the right to buy the croft land where they live and work and this is in effect a forced sale as it does not require a willing seller.
The community right to buy allows communities with a population of less than 10,000 in Scotland to apply to register an interest in land and the opportunity to buy that land when it comes up for sale. To take advantage of the Community Right to Buy process, communities must submit an application form to register an interest. All applications to register an interest in land are recorded in the Register of Community Interests in Land
(RCIL) held by the Registers of Scotland.
After an application has been submitted and passed initial checks, it is forwarded to the landowner and if applicable any heritable creditor, for their comments. At this stage a temporary Prohibition is placed on the landowner or heritable creditor preventing them from transferring or marketing the land. Any comments submitted by the landowner will be fully considered by Scottish Ministers when making their decision to approve or reject the application.
The "Right to Buy" can only be activated when the landowner has indicated that the registered land is to be sold or where the provisions of the Act have been breached.
Once a community body which holds a registered interest in the land for sale, confirms that it wishes to proceed with its "Right to Buy", it has six months to conclude the transfer of land or longer if agreed with the landowner.
Further details, including guidance for landowners, can be found on the Scottish Government
The Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs and Environment Committee agreed in early 2010 to commission external research on the implementation of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, widely regarded as one of the most ambitious Acts passed by the Parliament in its first session. The research was to focus on the two most significant aspects of that law:
- Provisions on access rights to rural land
- The creation of the community right to buy rural land (available in slightly different forms to crofting and non-crofting communities).
The Centre for Mountain Studies was contracted to undertake the research and produce a report to the Committee. The Centre undertook its work over late spring and summer 2010, and reported to the Committee in September 2010 (read the executive summary of the report here). The Committee concluded its considerations by writing a letter to the Minister for Environment and Climate Change in March 2011.