Tenancies created under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 (‘AHA’) allow agricultural holdings to be let by the land owner to a tenant. Agricultural holdings can include land and buildings used for horticulture, livestock, grazing and various other uses, but the use must be commercial in nature (so grazing land for privately owned horses will not constitute an agricultural holding, whereas grazing land let to a riding school will).

Rent reviews under AHA tenancies are dealt with by the Act.


Legislation on agricultural tenancies goes back to 1875 and has been regularly updated ever since. This provides greater protection and security for tenants who have a fairly long term investment in their property to allow crops sufficient growing time and to make investment in the land worthwhile.


Tenancies can be written or unwritten, although greater clarity on the terms of the agreement comes from having the tenancy in writing.


Any landowner could grant an AHA tenancy.

The tenant under an AHA tenancy may have succession rights, i.e. when the tenant dies or retires, a close relative (spouse, civil partner, sibling, child, or any person treated as a child of the tenant) may take on the tenancy. In some circumstances, these succession rights can apply twice, so a tenant’s child and then that new tenant’s child could continue the tenancy (provided that certain other criteria are met, e.g. the successor’s principal source of livelihood must have come from their work on the agricultural holding and they must be suitable to become a tenant).


Only tenancies created before 31 August 1995 can be AHA tenancies. Except in limited situations, it is not possible to create new AHA tenancies now, although previously unwritten tenancies can still be put into writing. Only tenancies created before 12 July 1984 carry succession rights. AHA tenancies have to be for a term of years, or run from year to year.


England and Wales. An agricultural holding is property that is substantially used for agricultural purposes. 


About the author

Jon Clifford Head of Rural Disputes

A seasoned litigator, Jon acts mostly for farmers, land owners, and rural businesses. His understanding of his clients’ unique needs, together with a practical approach to disputes, often manages resolution without recourse to the courts.