It came to my attention today that there is yet another situation where the Crofting Commission are not currently processing decrofting applications. This one appears to have received no publicity as yet and no policy statement has been issued on it by the Crofting Commission (I assume because they have still to actually formulate one).
The situation is as follows:-
- A croft house and garden ground is purchased by the crofting tenant without being decrofted.
- That crofting tenant becomes the owner-occupier of the croft house and garden ground and remains the tenant of the surrounding croft.
- The now owner-occupier sells the croft house and garden ground onto Mr. A and remains the tenant of the surrounding croft.
- Mr. A’s solicitor does not pick up on the fact that the croft house and garden ground has not been decrofted.
- Mr. A, many years later,is in the process of selling the croft house and garden ground to Mr. B. Unfortunately for Mr. A it is picked up by Mr. B’s solicitor that there is no decrofting direction.
The solution to the problem is, of course, for Mr. A to apply to the Crofting Commission for a decrofting direction. He immediately does so but receives this response from the Crofting Commission:-
As the croft house site has not previously been removed from crofting tenure, it remains part of the croft [name of croft given]. Unfortunately, where a croft is partly owned and partly tenanted, as in this case, the status of the owner is currently unclear. We have sought legal guidance on this matter and are unable at present to determine whether you are entitled to lodge a decrofting application. We will provide you with an update as soon as this guidance has been obtained.
Incredible! First we had owner-occupiers of a historically ‘divided’ croft not being able to apply for decrofting directions without the consent and concurrence of other owner-occupiers of that croft. Then we had owner-occupier crofters not being able to apply to decroft full stop. Now we have owner-occupiers of croft houses surrounded by tenanted croft land who cannot apply to decroft because “the status of the owner is currently unclear”. Where will this end? The Crofting Law Hydra is certainly in full flight and gaining heads by every turn.
The Scottish Government must seriously question what is going on at Great Glen House. The Crofting (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill, as currently drafted, is clearly seriously deficient in dealing with the decrofting problems that are emerging by the day. The last post on this blog suggested that the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 is a mess. There would appear to be no doubt about that given the constant desire by the Crofting Commission to reinterpret it.
[Picture Credit: Alien – 20th Century Fox]
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