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Definition of agricultural occupier

This content applies to England & Wales

A definition of the term 'agricultural occupier'.

For an agricultural occupancy to exist, the occupier needs to meet all of the following conditions. S/he must:[1]

  • be a 'qualifying worker'
  • have a 'relevant licence or tenancy'
  • occupy a dwelling house that is in 'qualifying ownership'.

The definition of these terms is the same whether the occupier started working in agriculture before, on or after 15 January 1989.

Qualifying worker

A person is a qualifying worker if s/he has worked in agriculture for 91 weeks out of the 104 immediately preceding weeks either full time (this means not less than 35 hours a week)[2] or as a permit worker.[3]

The definition of agriculture includes:[4]

  • dairy farming and the keeping and breeding of livestock. Livestock includes any animal (but not fish) that is kept for the production of food, wool, skins or fur or for use in any agricultural activity
  • the production of any consumable produce that is grown for sale or for consumption (eg crops, market gardening and fruit growing)
  • the use of land as grazing, meadow or pasture land; or for use as orchard or osier land
  • forestry.

It does not include other rural activities such as game keeping or hunting.

In certain situations, a week will count towards the threshold of 91 weeks even if the occupier does not work during that time. Each of the following situations counts:[5]

  • the occupier works less than 35 hours with the agreement of the employer
  • the occupier takes a holiday to which s/he is entitled
  • the occupier is absent from work with the employer's consent
  • the occupier is not able to work due to injury or disease, whether or not it is caused by her/his job.

If an occupier is not able to work due to injury or disease that has been caused by working in agriculture, then s/he will be a qualifying worker even if s/he has worked in agriculture for fewer than 91 of the preceding 104 weeks.[6]

Relevant licence or tenancy

In the case of a tenancy or licence beginning before 15 January 1989, it is a relevant licence or tenancy if it relates to a separate dwelling house, which would be protected by the Rent Act 1977 if it was not excluded by virtue of the provisions relating to low rent or agricultural use.[7] For more information see the page on Agreements made before 15.1.89.

In the case of a tenancy or licence beginning after 15 January 1989, it is an assured agricultural occupancy if:

  • it is an assured tenancy but not an assured shorthold tenancy, or
  • it would have been an assured tenancy but not an assured shorthold tenancy if it was not excluded by virtue of the provisions relating to low rent or agricultural use, or
  • it is a licence granting exclusive occupation that, if it were a tenancy, would be in one of the two categories above.[8]

For more information see the page on Agreements made on or after 15.1.89.

The definition excludes a tenancy of an agricultural holding or a farm business tenancy.[9] The tenancy of an agricultural holding or a farm business tenancy are protected under the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 and the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995.[10]

Qualifying ownership

In order to be in qualifying ownership, the occupier's employer must either be her/his immediate landlord, or have arranged for the occupier to be housed in the accommodation.[11] It does not matter if the occupier's employer does not own the property.[12]

[1] s.2 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976 and s.24 Housing Act 1988.

[2] paras 4(2) and 12(1), Sch.3 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976; para 1(3), Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

[3] para 1, Sch.3 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976; para 1(3), Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

[4] s.1 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

[5] para 4, Sch.3 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

[6] s.2(2) Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

[7] para 1, Sch.2 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

[8] s.24(2) Housing Act 1988 and para 1(1), Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

[9] para 2, Sch.2 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976; s.24(2) and(2A) Housing Act 1988 and para 1(1), Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

[10] as amended by Regulatory Reform (Agricultural Tenancies) (England and Wales) Order 2006 SI 2006/2805.

[11] para 3, Sch.3 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976; para 1(3) Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

[12] para 3, Sch.3 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

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