Commission say “legal change” required over Skye croft wrangle

The Crofting Commission has said it would require a change in the law to alter the status of a Skye resident who claims he has been branded an “absentee landlord” by the organisation.

Terry Swainbank, from Ard Dorch in Skye, said the problems stem from his purchase of the croft at half of four Ard Dorch in 2008.

The former owner previously let the tenancy of the croft and this had changed their status to landlord. This status was then subsequently transferred to the buyer in the title, even though the tenancy had subsequently been renounced.

As a result, Mr Swainbank has been classified as “the landlord of a vacant croft” rather than an “owner-occupier crofter”.

He fears that under crofting law, as landlord of a vacant croft, he could be required to find a tenant.

This week the commission said they were sympathetic to the situation, but would be unable to change the legal status, as this will require a change to the legislation — the remit of the Scottish Government and Parliament.

Crofting Commission Convener Susan Walker said: “This is one of the issues highlighted by the Crofting Law Group in its Crofting Law Sump report, which was submitted to the Scottish Government in December 2014.

“The Commission is committed to working with the government and crofting stakeholders to identify such anomalies within crofting legislation and find solutions. The submission of the Crofting Law Sump to the Scottish Government marks a significant stage towards the ultimate aim of making crofting law fit for purpose and helping to secure the future of crofting.”

When is a crofter not a crofter?