Land market establishing in Ukraine is a topic that has caused significant public interest. The issues specifically addressed by the land reform and the steps that have already been taken are presented in this article in more detail.
Lifting the Moratorium on Land Sales
Following a 19-year moratorium, the Verkhovna Rada (the Parliament) has finally adopted a law on terms and conditions of agricultural land circulation, which enters into force on July 1, 2021.
As early as this summer, citizens of Ukraine will be able to purchase agricultural land plots, but not more than 100 hectares per person.
The second stage of the land market establishment should start on January 1, 2024. Apart from individuals, the right of ownership of agricultural land could also be acquired by legal entities established and registered under the laws of Ukraine, which participants are citizens of Ukraine, the state, or amalgamated territorial communities.
The total area of land plots owned by a citizen of Ukraine or a legal entity may not exceed 10 thousand hectares.
In its turn, the readiness of Ukrainian society to provide access to the land market to foreign citizens will be determined through a referendum.
The Reform Objective
However, the land reform is not just about determining the date and range of entities that will be able to enter into transactions on the agricultural land sales. The “land package” of reforms includes more than 10 laws and draft laws, as well as almost 5 times more subsidiary laws to be adopted.
The key tasks at the market launch stage, in particular, are the following: transfer of agricultural lands from the state ownership to communal one of amalgamated territorial communities; transfer of land management powers to the local level; inventory of lands, digitization thereof, entering information about these in the State Land Cadastre; ensuring publicity of information about land and resources; illegal takeover counteraction, etc.
What Steps Have Already Been Taken for the Illegal Takeover Combating?
The Law of Ukraine “On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine Related to Illegal Takeover Combating” (No. 340-IX) has been in force for a year already.
This Law establishes the possibility of the land plot owner to demand notarization of the agreement related to a certain land plot, for example, the lease agreement.
Such notarization requirement is an encumbrance of property rights and is subject to state registration, which significantly complicates the illegal acquisition of the land.
Moreover, it has now become possible to include a condition on the automatic agreement renewal for the same period without any other actions or additional deeds conclusion in relation to certain agreements, such as leases.
The said novation should significantly reduce the number of litigations related to such agreements renewal.
The introduction of automatic information exchange between the State Register of Titles and the State Land Cadastre has become an important step in combating illegal takeover.
According to reports from the Office of Illegal Takeover Counteraction, the creation of a transparent land monitoring system and data exchange have already shown positive results.
However, it is too early to draw any conclusions. For the land market in Ukraine to become fully operational in 2021, the Parliament must adopt a number of other legislative acts that will fill the reform with meaning. However, changes along this path have already proven themselves as being optimistic.