Land reform

Land reform is one of the most complicated reforms in Estonia that was initiated on November 1, 1991 with the adoption of the Land Reform Act.

The main purpose of land reform was to remedy injustice caused by the Soviet occupation in 1940, when all land was nationalised and private ownership of land forbidden.

Objective of land reform

Based on the continuity of rights of former owners and the interests of current land users that are protected by law, and to establish preconditions for more effective use of land, the objective of land reform is to transform relations based on state ownership of land into relations primarily based on private ownership of land.

Content of land reform

In land reform:

  • unlawfully expropriated land is returned to its former owners or their legal successors or they are compensated therefor;
  • land is transferred for or without charge into the ownership of persons in private law, legal persons in public law or local governments;
  • land to be retained in state ownership is determined;
  • a right of superficies is constituted for the benefit of owners of structures, or a right of commercial lease or usufruct is established on land in the cases provided by law.

Local governments and the Land Board are responsible for the execution of land reform. The Land Board supervises, coordinates and controls the implementation process. It is the task of the Department of Land Reform to fulfil land reform related duties, and to form a state land reserve.

The Land Board:

  • participates in the legislative process concerning land reform;
  • consults, trains and monitors institutions conducting land reform;
  • ascertains the land suitable for inclusion into state land reserve andthe retention of land in state ownership;
  • performs procedures for the transfer of land into municipal ownership;
  • organises state financing upon return of land;
  • provides explanations on the implementation of legislation related to land reform;
  • participates in the settlement of disputes concerning land reform.

Last updated: 10.09.2021