Farm Licence Agreements

What’s a licence?

A licence is not an interest in land, but gives an individual permission to do something on or with someone else’s property- usually for when a very specific use of the land is desired. It can be thought of as permission, without which the licencee would be trespassing. For example, a grazing licence where the leasing farmer can graze their sheep on the land, but doesn’t have permission for other activities such as growing vegetables. A licence can be either contractual or non-contractual (aka a bare licence) which dictates if the landowner can terminate the agreement at will and formality of agreement. For a licence to be an agreement that is legally binding (contract) certain provisions must be articulated in the agreement (please see Licence Agreement Sample 1 (LLAF & Young Agrarians) for an example).

Registering on the title

Because it is not an interest in land, licence agreements cannot be registered with the BC Land Title and Survey Authority on the title to the property. A licence does not “run with the land” meaning that when the land is sold, the licence is terminated unless there is a provision stating otherwise in contract of purchase for property.

Licence on part or whole of land or having multiple licences on land 

There are generally no legal restrictions to a landowner can enter into multiple licence agreements for one parcel of land whether it is ALR or otherwise. Permission of the Agricultural Land Commission is not required.

Termination of a licence

A licence can be for a defined amount of time. A termination clause should be included in your licence agreement. A licence terminates:

  • at the end of the specified term
  • when the licencee voluntarily gives up the licence with permission of the landowner (surrender)
  • when the licencee purchases the property from the landowner (merger)
  • when a court orders the licence terminated (court order)
  • when the licencee ceases to make use of it for a length of time where a reasonable owner may concluded it will no longer be used (abandonment)
  • when the landowner cancels the licence because the licencee has not been following their commitments outlined in the agreement
  • when the licencee or licensor becomes deceased or non-competent

Sub-licence

A sub-licence is a licence agreement between the licencee and a third party for part or all of the original licence, a provision for this should be articulated in the original licence. The original licence between the licencee and the landowner still prevails, and the primary licencee is still liable for the obligations in the original license unless released from liability by the landowner. A sub-licence cannot be registered with the BC Land Title and Survey Authority.

Licence agreement samples

LLAF and Young Agrarians have adapted a licence document from Farm Folk City Folk and The Land Conservancy of British Columbia “A Guide to Farmland Access Agreements”. We have updated the legal language and put in a plain English side-bar to support the user to understand how to work with the template.

Also see: sample agreements