Land acquisition and use

Legislation

Identify and summarise the enacted legislation addressing agricultural property transactions in your jurisdiction. Outline how farmland is typically held.

The Netherlands has over 2 million hectares of agricultural land, which means more than half of the overall surface of the Netherlands is used for agricultural purposes. The average price of a hectare of agricultural land was €59,900 in 2018. Prices vary greatly per region. Generally prices are highest in Flevoland and lowest in Friesland.

The land in The Netherlands is devised according to governmental spatial planning. Land-use plans are the most important tool in spatial planning. These plans set down where construction may take place, what may be built, the size of the structure and what it may be used for. The land that is designated for agricultural purposes may not be used for other purposes such as housing.

Basically, there are no restrictions with respect to the acquisition of agricultural land by a foreign party. Transfer of ownership is not specifically regulated under Dutch law. The general provisions on immovable property apply, which, in essence, means that the ownership of land is transferred through a notarial deed.

Most agricultural land usage rights in the Netherlands are acquired by a specific agricultural lease regulated in Book 7 of the Dutch Civil Code, and a distinction has to be made between establishing the lease and transferring the lease. Establishing the lease requires approval of the lease contract by the Agricultural Tenancies Authority. The lessee can transfer the lease to direct family members without the consent of the lessor upon application to the agricultural tenancies division of the district court.

An agricultural lease agreement must in principle be concluded for a definite period of time, being 12 years for farms and homesteads and six years for separate land or buildings. Lease agreements for longer terms are allowed but only if a clear termination date is included in the agreement.

It should also be noted that the lessor, who intends to offer agricultural land for sale, has an obligation to offer the land to the lessee first. Since the lessor must offer the value of the land under leased conditions (which depresses the market value of the land), land lease operations in the Netherlands are less attractive.

Non-agricultural land rules

Outline any rules related to use of farmland for non-agricultural uses.

As discussed above, designated agricultural land cannot be used for other purposes. An application for a change of purpose is rarely granted by the local government.

Lending

What special rules are important to agricultural lending in your jurisdiction?

No special regulations apply to agricultural lending.

Publicly controlled property

Describe any rules relating to public control of farm property in your jurisdiction. What enacted legislation governs them?

There is no specific regulation related to public control of farm property.

Foreign ownership restrictions

Are there any restrictions on foreign ownership of farm property in your jurisdiction? What enacted legislation governs them?

As mentioned above, there are no such restrictions.