The History of Leith

November 28, 2004

Feudal law abolished after 800 years

The abolition of Scotland’s feudal law system is completed today as three separate pieces of legislation come into force, marking the most far reaching changes to Scots property law in eight centuries.

The Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc (Scotland) Act 2000, the Title Conditions (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Tenements (Scotland) Act 2004 are designed to modernise and simplify property law by giving owners greater rights.

Deputy Justice Minister Hugh Henry said:

“Property law affects most people in Scotland. We want to make sure that the law is fair, relevant and effective. That is why we are bringing forward a radical programme of reform that will move property law into the 21st century – removing archaic features that serve no useful purpose, but some of which can be positively harmful.

“These Acts represent both a symbolic change and practical reform. For the first time since the 12th century Scots can own their own property, rather than being at the bottom of a pyramid of feudal superiors. Meanwhile, on a practical level, these acts enshrine the rights of owners, as individuals and as members of a community, in modern, statutory language. This represents a huge step forward for responsible owners who will now find that the law supports them in moves to maintain communal areas and keep their buildings in safe, working order. It also means that disputes can be resolved more quickly and fairly.

“In short, the law is now clear – Scots can own their own properties without any additional burdens owing to other people.”

The three pieces of legislation are very closely related. Land which was previously held under feudal tenure will be absorbed into the system of ordinary, outright ownership. Owners of property in tenement buildings

Title conditions used to affect most land in Scotland. They were imposed on a plot of land (or an individual house) in the relevant title deeds almost invariably when it was first sold.

The conditions could be stipulated by the first seller and had to be accepted by subsequent buyers. They may have, for example, obliged successive owners to contribute to the cost of a service, or be prohibited from carrying out certain activities.

Source-Scottish Executive

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