This page is targeted at housing professionals. Our main site is at www.shelter.org.uk

Agreements made on or after 15.1.89

This content applies to England

The status of agricultural occupiers whose agreement started on or after 15 January 1989.

An agreement made on or after 15 January 1989 is covered by the Housing Act 1988, which creates the assured agricultural occupancy.

Assured agricultural occupancy

An assured agricultural occupancy gives many of the same rights as an assured tenancy.[1] The section on assured tenancies gives more information on these rights. Assured agricultural tenancies are ended in the same way as assured tenancies (ie a notice seeking possession must be served, a ground for possession must be proven and a court order for possession obtained).

One requirement for an assured agricultural occupancy is that the agreement is not an assured shorthold tenancy.[2] If the occupation started on or after 15 January 1989 and before 28 February 1997, the landlord/employer could create an assured shorthold tenancy in the same way as any other landlord,[3] ie by the tenancy being for a fixed term of six months or more, the landlord serving a prescribed notice informing the occupier that the tenancy was a shorthold, and the agreement not having a break clause (see the page on Break clauses and notices for more information about break clauses in tenancy agreements) that allows the landlord to end the tenancy in its first six months (see the section on Assured shorthold tenancies for more information). If the occupation has started on or after 28 February 1997, to create an assured shorthold tenancy the landlord/employer must take action different to that of any other landlord.[4] S/he must serve a prescribed form that states the tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy before the tenancy starts.[5]

Further, for an assured agricultural occupancy to arise, the occupier cannot have been a protected occupier with the same landlord/employer immediately prior to a new agreement with the landlord/employer, or a protected occupier who has been provided with suitable alternative accommodation (protected in this case meaning either under the Rent Act 1977 or the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976).[6] See the page on Agreements made before 15.1.89 for information about protected occupiers.

An occupier will be recognised as an assured agricultural occupier if:

  • s/he was formerly an assured agricultural occupier of another property that s/he gave up immediately before moving into her/his present property[7]
  • s/he was an agricultural occupier of the same property, and s/he has been given a new licence or tenancy of the same property, but at the time of the regrant s/he was not working in agriculture.[8]

Statutory tenancies

At the end of the tenancy term, a statutory periodic tenancy comes into existence, which will be an assured agricultural occupancy, as long as the agricultural worker condition is fulfilled.[9]

Where rent was payable, the period of the statutory tenancy will be that for which rent was payable (eg weekly or monthly). If no rent was paid, the period will be monthly by default.[10]

Grounds for possession

As usual with assured tenancies, the landlord first needs to serve a notice seeking possession.[11] All the grounds for possession for assured tenancies[12] apply to assured agricultural occupiers except ground 16.[13] Ground 16 is concerned with a property that has been let to a tenant in consequence of her/his employment and that employment has ceased.

If a landlord wants the property for another worker, s/he must arrange alternative accommodation or, if s/he is not able to, s/he should apply to the local authority to rehouse the agricultural worker.[14] The landlord must show a new worker needs the accommodation and that possession is needed in the interests of 'efficient agriculture'.[15] When making a decision on the application, the local authority is under a statutory duty to consider whether there is an agricultural need to rehouse the worker and the urgency of the application, and following the abolition of the Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees (ADHACs), it must do so on its own account or seek independent advice.[16] If the local authority accepts the landlord's application, it must use its 'best endeavours' to house the worker.[17] This duty is separate from any housing duties it may owe the applicant under homelessness law (see the Homelessness section for more information on local authority duties to homeless applicants).

If the occupier has a 'protected characteristic' (ie disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, sex, sexual orientation, and religion or belief), s/he may have a defence under the Equality Act 2010. See the section on the Equality Law and the page on  Disability discrimination for more information.

Succession

If the agricultural occupier dies, then the occupier's spouse, civil partner or cohabitee will succeed to the assured agricultural occupancy if s/he was living with her/him at the time of her/his death.[18] If there is no qualifying spouse, civil partner or cohabitee, then a member of the family who was residing in the dwelling house at the time the occupier's death and for two years before her/his death is entitled to succeed.[19]

Agricultural workers outside the Housing Act 1988

Some agricultural occupiers whose tenancies started on or after 15 January 1989 do not come under the protection of the Housing Act 1988. For example, this could be because their tenancy or licence ended before they have been able to work full time for 91 weeks out of the last 104. These workers have limited security of tenure that arises from special provisions relating to possession under section 4 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977.

See the Harassment and antisocial behaviour section for general information about harassment and illegal eviction.

Under section 4, a landlord cannot gain possession unless the court grants a possession order. The court has the power to suspend the execution of a possession order on such terms as it considers reasonable. The suspension would probably be for a period of about six weeks. Where a possession order is made within six months of the date on which a tenancy or licence ended, the court has a duty to suspend the order for the rest of the six month period unless it is not reasonable to do so, and one of the following is satisfied:

  • alternative accommodation is or will be made available
  • efficient management of the land would be seriously prejudiced if an order was not granted
  • greater hardship would be caused by suspending the order
  • the tenant had been causing damage to the premises.

[1] s.24(3) Housing Act 1988.

[2] s.24(2)(a) Housing Act 1988.

[3] s.20 Housing Act 1988.

[4] s.19A Housing Act 1988 and para 9, Sch.2A Housing Act 1988.

[5] Form No.9 Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015 SI 2015/620.

[6] s.34(4) Housing Act 1988.

[7] para 4, Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

[8] para 5, Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

[9] s.25(1) Housing Act 1988 and Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

[10] s.25(1)(b) Housing Act 1988.

[11] Form No.3 Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) Regulations 2015 SI 2015/620 as amended by Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/443 and (with effect from 1 December 2016) Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) (England) (Amendment No.2) Regulations 2016 SI 2016/1118..

[12] Sch.2 Housing Act 1988.

[13] s.25(2) Housing Act 1988.

[14] s.26 Housing Act 1988.

[15] s.26 Housing Act 1988 and s.27 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

[16] s.28 and s.29 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976; p.4 Summary of responses to the government consultation on The future of the Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, Agricultural Wages Committees, Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Committees, DEFRA, October 2012.

[17] s.28(7) Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

[18] paras 3(1) and 3(5), Sch.3 Housing Act 1988; para 44, Sch.8 Civil Partnership Act 2004.

[19] para 3(3), Sch.3 Housing Act 1988.

Back to top