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Author Topic: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?  (Read 28455 times)

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #15 on: October 16, 2013, 08:49:24 pm »
I think simplistically a croft is a smallholding in the crofting counties that is covered by the crofting legislation, which was put in place in 1886 to protect crofters by giving them security of tenure and fair recompense for improvements they make. Croft rents are based on bare land becaus the crofter puts the house, buildings and infrastructure on, not the landlord.

In the 1970's crofters were given the right to buy but most are still tenants. Croft land has to be used for agricultural use. Many also have access to common grazing.

If I bought 100 acres here in Angus, so outwith the scope of the crofting legislation, I could divide it up into 10 areas of 10 acres and offer it for rent but I don't think there would be the same restrictions / responsibilities than if it was in Argyll, for example. If I wanted to sell the 10 parcels of land for smallholding and not keeping horses, I would have to try to tie up the use by using the planning legislation.

I don't know if you saw / remember a post from eclipse, who with her OH, are trying to do just that - set up a proper lowland crofting settlement around Airdrie.

http://www.accidentalsmallholder.net/forum/index.php?topic=35958.msg357695#msg357695

There was a piece of legislation called the Small Land Holders (Scotland) Act of 1911 that seemed to extend the crofing legislation to all of Scotland, but I think it was repealed in 1931 - but I haven't got there in my research yet. It's my winter project :-)

What I'm thinking is could / should pressure be brought to bear on the Scottish Government to extend the crofting legislation, or a modified form of it, to the rest of Scotland.

doganjo

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Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2013, 09:40:16 pm »
Quote
What I'm thinking is could / should pressure be brought to bear on the Scottish Government to extend the crofting legislation, or a modified form of it, to the rest of Scotland
Sounds a good idea to me.  So the only difference between a croft and a smallholding is legislation!  It would be interesting to see if that law really was repealed.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2013, 06:58:45 am »
"What makes a croft different from a smallholding"
The law.
Land under crofting tenure is under a different legal system of land ownership, if buying one you need a solicitor who knows crofting law.

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2013, 07:33:42 am »
Rosemary - Have you come across Cottars yet?  I have come across references to them having many of the same rights as crofters but I have never found out what they are.




In the 20s the government bought some large estates and split them up to make small farms (which would be considered smallholdings now but would have been enough to provide a small living then).  It was in response to soldiers returning from WW1 wanting land.  This was most obvious in some parts of the highlands (I think a couple of the big estates in the western isles ended up being owned by the government and rented to crofters) where there was social unrest brewing.  Men had been told to go and fight for their homes and country so they went.  Those that returned (and the highlands had the highest casualty rate of anyone in WW1 - places like Uist lost 50% of the male population and 100 years later the communities still have not recovered) found that they no longer had a home as the landowners had taken their land so must have though  "what was the point in fighting for our land when we lost our land anyway".  The govenment must have feared a bunch of battle hardened soldiers taking matters into their own hands so were forced to act.

Anyway, I digress on a subject that I find fascinating.  The government created a load of small farms in other areas too.  In his book "thistle soup" Peter Kerr says he was brought up on one of these small farms in East Lothian so it must have happened there too.

I guess in the crofting counties the small land holdings survived as they are protected by law whereas in places like East Lothian most of them were either swallowed by bigger neighbors or merged to form bigger units after a generation.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2013, 07:55:28 am »
[quote author=oor wullie link=topic=38189.msg378002#msg378002 date=1381991622
Anyway, I digress on a subject that I find fascinating.  The government created a load of small farms in other areas too.  In his book "thistle soup" Peter Kerr says he was brought up on one of these small farms in East Lothian so it must have happened there too.



http://www.nexthomeonline.co.uk/property/walnut-lodge-14b-kinfauns-holding

This is one of these holdings, near Perth, much modified and without some of its original land holding. As I understand it, the Ministry of War / Board of Agriculture created these holdings all over, for returning soldiers after WW1 who couldn't find work. I think they were often 5 acres or so. There are some at Tealing, near Dundee and at Sauchieburn, outside Stirling. Mostly equestrian properties now, sadly.

From Tealing Village's website
1937 - The estate of Tealing is sold to the Department of Agriculture, for £23,497, to meet the death duties of Thomas Steuart Fothringham
1938 - The Department of Agriculture leases the land in Tealing for 41 small holdings

« Last Edit: October 17, 2013, 08:29:33 am by Rosemary »

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #20 on: October 17, 2013, 07:58:00 am »
From Wiki - I guess cottar  / cotter is just another term for crofter / smallholder, pre 1886.

Cotter, cottier, cottar, Kosatter or Kötter is the German or Scots term for a peasant farmer (formerly in the Scottish highlands for example). Cotters occupied cottages and cultivated small plots of land. The word cotter is often employed to translate the cotarius of Domesday Book, a class whose exact status has been the subject of some discussion, and is still a matter of doubt. According to Domesday, the cotarii were comparatively few, numbering less than seven thousand, and were scattered unevenly throughout England, being principally in the southern counties; they were occupied either in cultivating a small plot of land, or in working on the holdings of the villani. Like the villani, among whom they were frequently classed, their economic condition may be described as free in relation to every one except their lord.
A cottar or cottier is also a term for a tenant renting land from a farmer or landlord.
Highland Cotters (including on the islands, such as Mull) were impacted by the Industrial Revolution, as landowners realized they could make more money from sheep than crops. The landowners raised rents to unaffordable prices, or forcibly evicted entire villages, leading to mass exodus and an influx of former cotters into industrial centers, such as a burgeoning Glasgow.

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2013, 09:52:18 am »
There is a more specific definition in law which I have just found.
http://www.macandmac.co.uk/cb-cottar-subjects.asp

A “Cottar” is defined in crofting legislation as the occupier of a dwellinghouse situated in the crofting counties with or without land who pays no rent OR the tenant from year to year of a dwellinghouse situated in those counties paying an annual rent not exceeding £6, with or without garden ground but with no arable or pasture land.

I think that translates as someone with a similar status to a crofter but without the agricultural land.

doganjo

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Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2013, 10:03:18 am »
[
This is one of these holdings, near Perth, much modified and without some of its original land holding. As I understand it, the Ministry of War / Board of Agriculture created these holdings all over, for returning soldiers after WW1 who couldn't find work. I think they were often 5 acres or so. There are some at Tealing, near Dundee and at Sauchieburn, outside Stirling. Mostly equestrian properties now, sadly.

Friends of mine bought one of these in 1986 near Balmedie beach, in Aberdeenshire - they were four roomed detached bungalows with only one acre of land.  A lot of them up there were extended in various ways - some of them unrecognisable from the original, very substantially built.
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

JulieWall

  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2013, 10:14:04 am »
Round here the term croft is used to describe any smallholding by lots of the locals. I think in the minds of the people there is no difference between the two names and they will often ask if you are ''crofting''. Bet they are more aware of the difference in the islands though.
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Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2013, 10:43:33 am »
There is a more specific definition in law which I have just found.
http://www.macandmac.co.uk/cb-cottar-subjects.asp

A “Cottar” is defined in crofting legislation as the occupier of a dwellinghouse situated in the crofting counties with or without land who pays no rent OR the tenant from year to year of a dwellinghouse situated in those counties paying an annual rent not exceeding £6, with or without garden ground but with no arable or pasture land.

I think that translates as someone with a similar status to a crofter but without the agricultural land.

Thank you  :thumbsup:

marka

  • Joined Dec 2012
  • Moray, NE Scotland
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Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2013, 11:10:25 am »
The property we are buying is called a croft even though it isnt and our mortgage company have specifically stated that they wouldnt offer a mortgage on a 'croft' so I assume that the legal complexities surrounding a croft mean that they are'nt ( easily ) mortgable ?

Not sure but maybe that is the trade off for having greater access to grants etc ?

Just my twopenneth.
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oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2013, 11:41:30 am »
The property we are buying is called a croft even though it isnt and our mortgage company have specifically stated that they wouldnt offer a mortgage on a 'croft' so I assume that the legal complexities surrounding a croft mean that they are'nt ( easily ) mortgable ?

Not sure but maybe that is the trade off for having greater access to grants etc ?

Just my twopenneth.

I guess you can say that "a croft" is another term for a smallholding (because you get crofts in many areas) but "land under crofting tenure" is a very distinct legal definition which only applies to land under this system of law in the crofting counties.

You are right,no bank will lend on a croft (under crofting tenure) because the crofter has security of tenure.  This means that the bank would not be able to evict the crofter if they wanted to reposses the property.  Even if it is an owner occupied croft although the bank could take ownership of the land the crofter would still be the tenant and land with an unevictable tenant is worth very little.
I think there is also an element of because it is something out of the ordinary they won't go near it.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #27 on: October 17, 2013, 12:52:07 pm »
So how do folk finance the purchase of a croft?

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #28 on: October 17, 2013, 01:50:17 pm »
If you are very, very lucky a vacant croft becomes available and you take on the tenancy of it at no cost just like taking on the tenancy of anything else (but I have never come across such an opportunity).

Most crofts are inherited or assigned to a relative on the crofters death (the tenancy is heritable).

If the croft has a house on it you can decroft the land it sits on thus making it acceptable security for a bank.  Similarly a small area of land with planning permission could be decrofted and offered to the bank as security.  (Although a legal cock up means that the government is currently unable to authorise any decroftings until they get some legislation through parliament).

If you are just buying bare croft land (or buying the tenancy of croft land) you won't get anyone to lend you money (except perhaps Wonga??).  However, due to the restrictions on its use and your residency, croft land without a house site or house on it is not really worth very much, or at least shouldn't be - the amount I paid for mine felt like an awful lot.

Hamish Crofter

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  • Isle of Skye
Re: What makes a croft different from a smallholding?
« Reply #29 on: October 18, 2013, 12:16:34 am »
 Oor wullie, this has got me thinking. Is there a current going rate for the cost of bareland croft per acre? Just how do they value it when owner occupied crofts are for sale.

When I bought mine we had planning permission in place for two houses which I guess gave it it's value. However I have my eye on a few acres my neighbour has that was once part of my croft. He doesn't use it and I'd be keen to buy it..........

 

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