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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 November, 2004, 10:06 GMT
Age-old Scots property rights end
Rural houses
There are fears that landowners will seek compensation
Laws abolishing 800 years of feudal property rights have come into force in Scotland.

The legislation - brought in by the Scottish Parliament - is intended to make land ownership simpler and fairer.

However, there have been fears that thousands of Scottish households could face unexpected bills as a result.

Experts believe some people are unprepared for the introduction of the new legislation and could end up paying up to 400 in compensation.

The legislation which comes into force on Sunday is contained in the Abolition of Feudal Tenure (Scotland) Act 2000, the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2001 and the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004.


It effectively brings to an end a system where feudal superiors had control over what could be done with land and property - even when it was owned by someone else.

The overall result will be a set of rules fit for the 21st Century
Dr Andrew Steven
Property expert
Up until now, a family living in a tenement flat in Glasgow could be required to pay annual duty to the church and a farmer might have to pay a charge to a local laird even though he had always owned his farm.

The Church of Scotland, for example, was receiving 30,000 a year from feudal fees.

These rights have now been abolished but feudal superiors could ask for final payments as compensation for lost income.

However, a Scottish Executive spokesman said: "The abolition of feudal tenure will allow Scots to own their own property for the first time in 800 years and will end the payment of feu duties and feudal real burdens.

"With the end of feudal tenure will come the end of an archaic system used only for extracting money from property owners.

"This is a great step forward that, along with new legislation to make common repairs in tenements easier, will save people stress, money and grant them greater rights."

Common properties

The Scottish Law Commission said The Tenements (Scotland) Act is likely to have the greatest practical impact.

The new act will enable maintenance of common properties to be carried out if a majority of owners are in favour of the work.

Commenting on the overall changes, commission spokesman Professor Kenneth Reid said: "A change in property law of this magnitude is a major event in the history of the law in Scotland.

"With this reform, property law breaks free from its feudal roots.

"The new law will be simpler, more coherent and more suited to the conditions of modern life."

Dr Andrew Steven, a property law and conveyancing expert at Edinburgh University, said: "Today will see the most significant changes to Scottish land law for centuries.

"The overall result will be a set of rules fit for the 21st Century."

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