Amendment to the Agricultural Holdings Act 1969

Closed 15 Oct 2018

Opened 6 Aug 2018

Feedback Updated 21 Dec 2018

We Asked

The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture asked for feedback on whether or not there should be a ‘sunset clause’ introduced in the Agricultural Holdings Act 1969 to remove it over time, in favour of the Agricultural Tenancies Act 2008.

You Said

Overall there were 68 respondents to the consultation that provided a name and/or email address.

The majority of respondents were tenants, so they were generally not in favour of introducing a sunset clause in the Agricultural Holdings Act 1969.  The main group in favour of introducing a sunset clause was landlords, and they opted for the quickest transition offered (10 years).

However, a significant part of the resistance to introducing a sunset clause is related to a belief that the 2008 Act does not provide adequate security of tenure.  Some statements around the inflexibility of the Agricultural Tenancies Act 2008 and a belief that only 5 year tenancies can be arranged shows some basic misunderstanding of the 2008 Act.

We Did

The consultation process did not deliver suitable clarity on a preferred mechanism for introducing a sunset clause into the 1969 Agricultural Holdings Act.  However, it did highlight a strong resistance to change from tenants on the basis that there is inadequate security of tenure in the 2008 Agricultural Tenancy Act.  There appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the flexibility of the 2008 Act which may be preventing more widespread acceptance of it as a replacement for the 1969 Act.

The next steps are as follows, which are planned to be completed before the end of 2019:

  1. Gather FAQ’s on the 2008 Agricultural Tenancy Act and provide interpretation on the scope of the legislation for security of tenure and land mobility. Consider the requirements of sitting tenants, landlords and potential new/young farmers.
  2. Conduct a further consultation on the actual versus perceived effectiveness of the 2008 Act for land mobility and security of tenure.
  3. If the consultation identifies deficiencies in the 2008 Act identifies bring forward amendments to it.
  4. Launch a further consultation on the 69 Act.

Results Updated 21 Dec 2018



The Agricultural Holdings Act 1969 which replaced the Agricultural Holdings Act 1936 was introduced to give additional security to farm tenants. Legislation similar to the 1969 Act also exists in England, however it had two subtle differences:

  • Manx legislation allowed the Tenancy to be passed on limitless times, whereas in England the right to succeed was limited to three generations (existing tenant plus two successions)
  • Manx legislation allowed the Tenancy to be passed on to spouse, children and grandchildren in England succession was limited to direct descendants (spouse or children).

An unintended consequence of the 1969 Act was that the availability of new land to let for more than one year effectively dried up and Landlords reluctant to lose control of their asset started taking land back ‘in hand’.  To address this perceived shortcoming in the Agricultural Holdings Act 1969, the Agricultural Tenancies Act 2008 was introduced. This allowed the creation of short term tenancies and whilst it mirrored changes in other jurisdictions was seen as quite radical by some sections of the farming community. Time has proved that the Act was an appropriate change and land previously managed on behalf of land owners has become available to new Tenants. However the 2008 Tenancies Act had no effect on agreements made under the 1969 legislation; therefore the rights of tenancy succession for perpetuity still exists for tenancies made the 1969 Act and will continue to do so without changes being made to that legislation.

The consultation on the 1969 Agricultural Holdings Act has been extended for a further 4 weeks, to 15th October, to allow for;

 a) further clarification to be provided on the powers of the Act;

b) further time for responses from the farming industry following a busy harvest period.

Why We Are Consulting

A DEFA policy objective for the agriculture industry is:

‘to achieve a reliable, sustainable and self-reliant Manx food chain that profitably produces a diverse range of products and staple foods to feed the Manx nation’.

As a result of ongoing discussions with DEFA around the future of agricultural support,  a declared policy objective from the MNFU is that Government should support those who are actively farming their land.

The Department believes that in certain circumstances the 1969 Act prevents the delivery of both the DEFA and MNFU policy objectives and considers that the success of the 2008 Tenancy Act means that now would be an appropriate time to introduce a sunset clause into the 1969 legislation giving an end point to the tenancy succession. This consultation is therefore to seek broad approval for this change and to ascertain the preferred method of bringing the right to automatic succession to an end.


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