Farm workers living in tied accommodation

Tied accommodation is when your home is provided by your employer and tied to the specific job you do.

Types of accommodation for farm workers

Tied accommodation for farm workers is called an agricultural tenancy or an agricultural occupancy.

There are different kinds of agricultural tenancy or occupancy, each of which gives you different rights.

Not all farm workers who live on agricultural land are agricultural tenants. If you live on land that you rent and farm yourself, you may have an agricultural holding

If you are having problems with an agricultural holding, get advice. Use Shelter's directory to find a face-to-face adviser in your local area.

What is an agricultural tenancy

To be an agricultural tenancy your tenancy needs to meet certain conditions.

You must live in a self-contained home

You do not have an agricultural tenancy if you share a house with your landlord or you don't have control over who enters the accommodation.

This could be, for example, because your landlord genuinely needs to enter the property without your permission.

Your employer must own the home you live in or have arranged for you to live there so that you can do your work

You do not have an agricultural tenancy if you are employed by:

  • a government department
  • the Queen
  • a local council
  • the Forestry Commission
  • a housing association

You may have separate housing rights through the law or rights set out in your contract of employment.

The job you do must meet certain criteria

To be an agricultural worker you must:

  • work for 35 hours or more a week – unless you have a permit to work shorter hours as a result of an industrial injury
  • work for at least some of the time on maintaining crops, livestock, forestry, or tractors, and other equipment (market gardens and plant nurseries are also included)
  • have been employed in agriculture for at least 91 weeks of the last 104 – this includes time from previous employment, as well as paid holiday and sick leave. You don't need to have been employed by the same employer, or worked on the same farm to meet this requirement.

There are other situations where you may have an agricultural tenancy.

Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser in your area to help you work out what kind of tenancy you have.

You are not usually considered to be an agricultural worker you work on a fish farm or keep animals for sport.

Types of agricultural tenancy

You have to meet certain conditions in order to qualify as an agricultural tenant.

If you are an agricultural tenant, the type of tenancy you have depends on when your tenancy started.

Tenancies starting before 15 January 1989

You have a regulated tenancy if your agricultural tenancy started before 15 January 1989. This is also known as a statutory or protected agricultural tenancy. You have many of the same rights as a private tenant with a regulated tenancy.

Your right to live in your home does not end even if you lose your job or retire or if the property is sold. After you die, your tenancy can be passed to your spouse or partner or a member of your family in certain circumstances.

In most cases, the only way that your landlord can evict you from your home is to supply you with suitable alternative accommodation. Accommodation is only considered suitable if the new tenancy is another regulated tenancy or a secure tenancy provided by a local council.

Tenancies starting after 15 January 1989

You might have an assured agricultural tenancy if your agricultural tenancy started after 15 January 1989. Or you could have a shorthold agricultural occupancy which is similar to an assured shorthold tenancy and gives you fewer housing rights. You only have a shorthold agricultural occupancy if your landlord gave you a written notice saying that the occupancy was a shorthold at the start of your tenancy. 

The rights and the grounds for possession of an assured agricultural tenancy are similar to those for assured tenancies. However, unlike assured tenancies, the right to live in the accommodation does not end when the job comes to an end in the case of an agricultural tenancy. Once you become an agricultural tenant, you keep that tenancy even if you lose your job.

You have the right to stay in the property unless a court makes an eviction order against you.

Eviction from an agricultural tenancy

If you have an assured (which is not a shorthold agricultural occupancy) or regulated agricultural tenancy you only have to leave your property if a court issues a possession order against you telling you to leave.

Your landlord can only get a possession order against you in certain circumstances, including if you:

  • do not pay the rent (there may be rules on how much and for how long)
  • break a condition of the tenancy
  • cause a nuisance
  • damage your home
  • are provided with suitable alternative accommodation by your landlord or the council

Get advice if you are threatened with eviction for any reason.

Call Shelter's helpline or use our directory to find an adviser in your area.

You can still stay in the property if you lose your job, leave to start another one or you cannot work because of illness or injury.

If your landlord needs your home for another farm worker, they must offer you alternative accommodation. If they are unable to do this they must ask your council to re-house you. Your council must do everything it can to find you somewhere else to live.

If you leave your job

Agricultural tenants

You keep your tenancy and the housing rights of that tenancy if you are an agricultural tenant and you retire or you lose your job.

Other tenants

If you are an agricultural worker but you do not have an agricultural tenancy, you have less protection from eviction. However, your landlord probably needs a court order to evict you unless you live as a lodger in their home.

Rent payments in agricultural tenancies

Many agricultural tenants do not pay rent. However, if you do pay for your accommodation the amount of rent that you need to pay depends on several different factors including the type of agricultural tenancy that you have.

Protected agricultural tenancy

If you have a protected or agricultural tenancy your landlord doesn't usually charge you any rent. This does not affect the rights that you have to live in the property. When you do stop working for your landlord they usually start to charge you rent.

You can either reach an agreement with your landlord over the level of rent you pay or you can ask a tribunal for rent disputes to set what is known as a fair rent. This is likely to be lower than a private rent.

Assured agricultural tenancy and assured shorthold

You don't usually need to pay rent when you are working for your landlord if you have an assured agricultural tenancy. This doesn't affect your rights as a tenant. If your landlord does charge you a market rent, this is set at an agreed amount.

When you stop working for your landlord they can start to charge you rent, even if you didn't pay any rent before. Your landlord can charge you what is known as a market rent, which is usually the going rate for the size and type of accommodation you live in.

You should try come to an agreement with your landlord over the level of rent you pay. If you think the amount of rent your landlord wants you to pay is unfair, you can ask a rent officer to set the rent level. Get advice before you ask them to do this, as rent officers can put the rent up as well as down.

If you do not agree on the amount of rent set by your landlord, you should usually do this within one month of getting notice of your landlord's proposed rent increase. If you have already agreed to pay the amount your landlord asks for, you cannot ask the rent officer to look at it later.

Get advice immediately if your landlord asks you to pay an amount that you cannot afford or think is unfair.

Use Shelter's directory to find a face-to-face adviser in your local area.

Succession to an agricultural tenancy

You can pass an agricultural tenancy to your spouse or partner if they are living with you when you die. The tenancy can only be passed on once.

If you are not married and you do not have a partner, you can pass the tenancy on to a member of your family, as long as they have been living with you in the property for at least two years.

 

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