Cottar Subjects & Your Will

Cottar Subjects & Your Will

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.

There are therefore two potential categories of cottar, and the law treats each category in a different way.

Cottars have the same rights to purchase their cottar subjects as crofters do to purchase their crofts. This right to buy applies to cottars in both categories, however the crucial difference between the two is that authorities state that there is no right of succession to cottar subjects for cottars in the first category described above, i.e. if you are a cottar who pays no rent, then you cannot make a will leaving the cottar subjects to a specified individual on your death, and the cottar subjects do not form part of your estate on death.

This means that cottars in the first category should take steps to purchase their cottar subjects during their lifetime, to ensure the dwellinghouse is protected for future generations.

For cottars in the second category, they will need to consider whether or not to purchase during their lifetime or simply continue to pay rent as before. If they decide not to purchase, their will should include a specific clause dealing with the bequest of the dwellinghouse.

There are likely to be few cottar subjects left in the crofting counties, and at Macleod & MacCallum, whilst we have come across a few examples of rent paying cottars, we are not aware of any non rent paying cottars, although there could still be examples.


This Briefing has been produced for information purposes only and is based on the law and other information available at the time of writing. We cannot be held responsible for any losses incurred through acting or failing to act on the basis of anything contained in this Briefing.

If you require advice on any of the matters referred to, please contact us so that we can advise you, taking account of your own particular circumstances and requirements.

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