Upgrade to ChromeUpgrade to FirefoxUpgrade to Internet ExplorerUpgrade to Safari

Buying a property with an agricultural tie

An attractive rural property for sale at less than the usual market price can seem like an unexpected bargain – until you find out it comes with an agricultural occupancy condition, more commonly known as an ‘agricultural tie’.

Agricultural Occupancy Conditions (AOCs) were brought in after World War II to keep rural housing affordable for agricultural workers. They are still being imposed today to allow the building of houses in the open countryside where development would not normally be permitted.

In general terms, an AOC is a planning condition which states that a property can only be occupied by someone who is ‘wholly or mainly occupied in agriculture or forestry’.  A widower or dependent of someone falling within the definition would also be covered

Potential problem for both buyer and seller

The change in modern farming practices, and the need for less live-in labour, means there are now far fewer prospective buyers who can fulfil the AOC criteria.

Meanwhile, alongside the issue of a shrinking pool of potential purchasers, the seller has another problem – the value of a home with an agricultural tie is generally about 25-30 per cent lower than a property without one.

Can you get an agricultural tie lifted?

The answer is yes, sometimes. It is possible to alter, suspend or discharge an AOC but it’s not a straightforward or simple process and specialist legal advice is highly advisable.

Getting it lifted entirely usually involves proving beyond any doubt that the property concerned is no longer needed as accommodation for agricultural workers.

This generally involves marketing the property for between six and 12 months, although the exact timescale would need to be agreed with the local council, at a price which reflects the AOC to see if any qualifying buyers come forward.

If they don’t, and it can be seen that there has been no demand for the property over that time, the local council may agree to remove the AOC.  You would, of course, need to discuss this with the council in question as it might have specific requirements that must be met first.

Altering and suspending an AOC

Sometimes it’s possible to change the conditions of an AOC – and this is being seen increasingly when it comes to equestrian use.

Another way forward is to apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development (CLEUD) to prove there has been a consistent, uninterrupted and ongoing breach of the AOC for 10 years.

In short, the CLEUD does not remove the agricultural tie but merely certifies that the current use is lawful.  If anyone falls within the definition required by the AOC then the tie would effectively be re-instated and the 10 year period would start from scratch the next time the AOC was breached. However, it’s not uncommon for a council to remove an AOC completely once a CLEUD has been granted.

For more information about this complicated area of the law, please contact Wards Solicitors’ Conveyancing Team.

Get in Touch

Request a call back

If you’d prefer us to call you back, just use the form below to give us your number and the best time to call. It would also be useful if you could give us some idea of what you’d like to discuss.


    February 2021: Covid-19 arrangements

    Wards Solicitors remains open for business during the national lockdown and we are taking on new cases.  We are available for video call and telephone meetings but cannot currently offer face to face meetings with clients except in some specific emergency situations and at court hearings.

    How to get in touch:

    • Please email or telephone your usual lawyer or team, or
    • Please telephone the branch most convenient to you between 9am and 5:30pm, Mondays to Fridays.
    • Alternatively, email info@wards.uk.com at any time and we will respond to you as soon as possible.

    A list of our 12 branches is available here. Our telephones lines are operating as normal behind closed doors.

    Important Warning: Cyber-crime is very common including email interception. We will never tell you of changes to our bank details by email.  Please be aware that we accept no responsibility if you transfer money to a bank account which is not ours. If you receive an email giving our bank account details, please telephone us immediately without replying to the email or sending money.