Community rights to buy and take over land and buildings

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

In some communities, problems in the environment may be caused by the way land or assets are being used. There is legislation that allows community groups either to buy, rent or take over land or other assets in certain circumstances.

Right to buy

In many circumstances when a community group is exercising the right to buy it must include a willing seller. The process is started by registering an interest in the property so that if it comes up for sale the community body can put in a bid. There is a register of community groups that have lodged an interest in land on the Registers of Scotland website.

Anyone interested in setting up a community group for this purpose can get help from the Community Ownership Support Service.

There is more information about the community right to buy, the application form and guidance on the Scottish Government website.

Asset transfer of publicly owned land or buildings

The Community Ownership Support Service can provide advice to a community group, once it is set up, about how to take over assets of publicly owned land or buildings.

There is a very helpful summary about asset transfer on the Scottish Government website

There is also a helpful Route Map available on the website of the Community Ownership Support Service that explains all the steps involved in a community group applying to transfer assets of a public body.

Abandoned or neglected land

From 27 June 2018 if a legally set up community group identifies land that it thinks has been abandoned, neglected or is causing a detriment to the community it can apply to Scottish Ministers to ask for permission to exercise the right to buy it. It does not require the owner to be willing to sell. An owner will be allowed to object to the sale going through. 

Land suitable for further sustainable development

From 26 April 2020 if a legally set up community group identifies land that is suitable for further sustainable development it can make an application to buy it or nominate a third party to buy it. The owner's consent is not needed but they could appeal. 

You can get help and information from the Community Ownership Support Service  if there is a piece of land in the area that you are concerned has been abandoned or neglected or is causing environmental problems or is suitable for further sustainable development.