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Research on interventions to manage land markets and limit the concentration of land ownership elsewhere in the world

Summary Research on interventions to manage land markets and limit the concentration of land ownership elsewhere in the world Commissioned Report No.: 001 Contractors:

Jayne Glass, Rosalind Bryce, Martin Price, Leonie Schulz, Diana Valero (Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth College, University of the Highlands and Islands) Malcolm Combe (School of Law, University of Aberdeen) Norman Hutchison (Centre for Real Estate Research, University of Aberdeen)

Year of publication: 2018

Keywords Land ownership restrictions; land market interventions; land concentration; international examples; property rights.

This report should be cited as: Glass, J., Bryce, R., Combe, M., Hutchison, N.E., Price, M.F., Schulz, L. and Valero, D. 2018. Research on interventions to manage land markets and limit the concentration of land ownership elsewhere in the world. Scottish Land Commission, Commissioned Report No 001.

For further information on this project contact: Shona Glenn – Scottish Land Commission Tel: 0300 244 4452


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In Scotland, there are no restrictions on how much land a single individual can own, and a concentrated pattern of large-scale private land ownership exists, particularly in rural areas. The Scottish Government has made it clear that it believes there is a need for change, stating that its vision is for a fairer – or wider and more equitable – distribution of land in Scotland, where communities and individuals have access to land and there is greater diversity of land ownership. This study was commissioned to enable the Scottish Land Commission to learn from international experience of imposing limits on who can own land and/or how much land any single individual or entity can own. The research identified and described restrictions on land ownership in 22 countries (18 in the EU/EEA). The countries were selected using a set of criteria to ensure lessons were learned from countries with a similar legislative context and characterised by strong regulation, governance and transaction processes, low levels of perceived corruption, and a strong property rights regime. Desk-based research identified the range of interventions in the countries, and findings were cross-checked with country experts to ensure accuracy. Interventions in the countries include restrictions that relate to: foreign ownership of land; ownership approval processes; upper and lower area limits; owner characteristics and land use requirements; pre-emptive rights to buy land; and measures to reduce land fragmentation. A range of motivations underpin the implementation of interventions to achieve policy objectives related to land ownership in the various countries. Analysis of the motivations and the interventions allowed countries to be grouped according to the following typology, which identifies ‘foreign interest limiters’, ‘land use stipulators’ and ‘land consolidators’:

In 18 of the countries considered in the study, some form of approval exists in relation to who can own land. Twelve countries require foreign land acquisitions to be approved prior to completion; processes of this nature exist to check the public interest impacts related to land purchase by a non-citizen. Approval processes are not limited to land acquisitions by foreigners: six countries require the relevant authority to approve all purchases of agricultural land. Underlying concerns tend to include: the local residence of the land owner; protection of agriculture; and the avoidance of land fragmentation. A formal approval process related to


the purchase of land or property does not exist in Scotland. Based on the experience in other countries, developing such a framework would not be unusual and may present an opportunity to consolidate what is in the public interest, in terms of