Purchasing a farm of your own is an exciting and big prospect.

Before you can begin your farming journey, there are many legal considerations and steps that must take place to ensure the farm you purchase is workable, valuable and will enable you to run a successful farm. 

Before purchase

The first step in the purchase of any building, commercial property or land is to view it.

Viewing farmland ensures you can see the condition of fields, land, barns, property or farmhouse, yards, etc. and also see things that may not have been declared in the sales memorandum.

For example, there may be evidence of pollution, illegal flytipping or infertile soil. 

Once you have viewed and decided to proceed with an offer, you will liaise with the estate or land agent until the offer is accepted.

Then, you must instruct a solicitor to investigate the land and progress the purchase through to completion. 

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During the purchase 

The legal process of purchasing a farm contains several important steps and stages.

1. Firstly, any Heads of Terms you have agreed with the seller must be sent to your solicitor when instructing. These will set out the basic and fundamental aspects of the purchase, including what areas of the farm you will be purchasing, whether you are purchasing just the land or any additional farmhouse or buildings too. There are further considerations relating to this point which will need to be uncovered later in the purchase, for example, tenants in occupation, shooting licences, access or other existing licences. 

2. The next step will be investigating the farmland to find out as much about the land as possible.  

During the purchase

Deducing title 

By reviewing the Land Registry title documents and carrying out an Index Map search, it will be clear firstly whether the farm is registered or unregistered, and, if registered, who owns the farm and whether there are any charges, restrictions, rights or burdens affecting the property. 

Raising enquiries 

Your solicitor will ask the seller’s solicitor to provide replies to a list of standard agricultural enquiries, which are designed to extract key information you will need to know about any land or property you are purchasing. 

These enquiries can also be tailored to the specific farm you are purchasing, i.e. a specific enquiry about a field rented out or additional agricultural enquiries added.

Examples include:

  • Boundaries and extent of the land at the farm, including any alterations, discrepancies and maintenance; 
  • Rights benefitting or affecting the property, e.g. sporting rights or manorial rights;
  • Access to neighbouring land, including any permitted or refused access to and from the property;
  • Physical condition, e.g. flooding, subsidence, structural defects, recent surveys;
  • Information on utilities and services and routes/plans and means of supply;
  • Planning and building regulations and requesting copies of consents and confirmation of use (however, you should also carry out a specific search with the Local Authority, as below);
  • Information on any occupiers and employees;
  • Information on Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and any entitlements or claims; or  
  • Information on animals, growing crops, informal grazing agreements or certification schemes.

Raising enquiries


Searches should be carried out on the property to examine the condition, value and useability of the farm. The results will determine whether you can use the farm as intended or whether there may be issues or prohibitions. The following lists some of the most important and significant searches:

Local Land Charges search 

This search will show any liabilities imposed by local land charges registered against the property, such as conditions in planning consents, planning enforcement notices, any Tree Preservation Orders, listed buildings, conservation areas or dedication of land as access land.

Local Authority search 

The results of this search will show findings such as planning consents and completion notices, environmental notices, whether any land has been designated as common land or village green and details of roads and public rights of way (PROWs); it is important to know if any PROWs cross your farmland as this could impact your intended use of certain fields or areas. 

Drainage and Water 

This search will reveal whether the farm is connected to the mains water supply and mains drainage, as well as other essential and practical information about the water and drainage services at the farm. 

Mines and minerals 

Depending on the location of the farm (which will determine the type of any past mining history), it may be necessary to carry out a search for any subsidence from past coal, tin, clay, limestone or salt mining, as appropriate.

Any potential subsidence could impact the work to be carried out on the farm’s fields.


This search will assess any environmental risks affecting the farm and will reveal any potential contamination of the land. 

It is important to note that if the land is contaminated and the party who caused or permitted the contamination cannot be found, then the current/new owner may be responsible for remedying the contamination. 

Any potential contamination issues could also impact the soil quality and growth of any crops on the land.


Depending on the particular location and situation of the farm, a flooding search may be appropriate to determine the risk of flooding from rivers, sea, surface water, groundwater and reservoirs. 

3. If all results come back satisfactory and both parties are happy to proceed, your purchase will then progress to exchange and completion. Once completed, any stamp duty land tax must be paid, and the purchase must be registered at the Land Registry so that your ownership is legally registered and you become an official farm owner.

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If you are wanting to purchase a farm, please contact our commercial property solicitors for expert legal advice: