The Law of Agriculture Lands

The Law of Agriculture Lands

Law no. 17/2014 on some measures to regulate the sale and purchase of agricultural lands located outside the built-up area entered into force on April 11th 2014. This regulatory document was intended to encourage the merger of agricultural lands into large farming companies considered to be more beneficial in terms of productivity. For this purpose, the law introduced a mandatory preliminary procedure for the sale of agricultural lands located outside the built-up area and designated the Ministry of Agriculture and Sustainable Development as the government institution responsible for supervision and control.

The main effect of the law is the establishment of a number of pre-emptors in the sale and purchase of agricultural lands located outside the built-up area, with three new categories added to the tenant farmers and a new order of priority for them. Consequently, the lands regulated by this law may only be sold if the pre-emption right of co-owners, tenant farmers, owners of neighbouring lands and the Romanian State (represented by the State Domains Agency) is complied with, in this order, at equal prices and on equal terms.

Prior to the conclusion of a sale and purchase agreement, sellers must notify pre-emptors of their intent by submitting a detailed offer for sale to the Town Hall of the municipality in whose territory the land concerned is located. Said offer is posted at the seat of the Town Hall and on the official website of the institution, free of charge, for 30 days, while the interested pre-emptors shall be able to submit an acceptance letter within the same time limit to be published by the Town Hall in a similar manner.

If  several  pre-emptors  from  different  categories  express

their intent to purchase a particular land, the seller has the obligation     to     choose     a     buyer     observing      the abovementioned  order  of  priority.  But  if  all pre-emptors belong  to  the  same  category, the  seller  shall  be free to  choose  any of them. On the other  hand, if a lower-ranked pre-emptor offers a higher price than the higher-ranked pre-emptor, the  seller  repeats  the  procedure and publishes a new offer at a higher price.

Finally, if no pre-emptor submits any acceptance letter within the 30-day time limit, the sale shall be opened to all third parties, at the same or higher price and on the same terms stipulated in the offer for sale. It is important to note that all sale and purchase agreements concluded in breach of this preliminary procedure and those concluded at lower prices and/or on more advantageous terms than those set out in the original offer are sanctioned by absolute nullity.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and its territorial structures are the government institution responsible for the supervision and control of the entire procedure, with the following main tasks: (i) publishing the sale offers and the acceptance letters on the official website for 15 days; (ii) verifying the exercise of the pre-emption rights; (iii) verifying that the potential buyers meet the legal conditions; (iv) issuing the approvals related to the sale and purchase agreements; (v) setting up and managing the database of agricultural lands located outside the built-up area; (vi) causing its own staff to impose the sanctions provided by law.

As far as the sanctions are concerned, the law stipulates the breaching of which articles is considered a misdemeanour and sets out fines between RON 50,000 and RON 100,000 for each of them.