In common law, a land tenure system (or land tensure system) refers to the rules and conditions that are associated with owning land and its use, particularly for farming. Tenure has been based on royal decree, informal customs and through defined laws and policies throughout the ages. In practice it refers to the relationship between the individual that owns (or ‘holds’) the land and another that works or cultivates the land. The latter is often referred to as the ‘tenant’, a word which is derived from the French word ‘tenir’ which means to hold; the term ‘tenant’ is the present participle of this word.
In modern usage land tenure rules define property rights to land that govern its use, ownership, control, access and transfer including all the associated responsibilities and conditions of these activities. In simple terms it defines who can use a given area of land, for how long, under what conditions and with what rights and conditions.