Agricultural occupiers and possession

A landlord can refer an agricultural occupier to the local authority or take possession of an agricultural occupancy if certain conditions are made out.

This content applies to England & Wales

Assured agricultural occupancy grounds for possession

As usual with assured tenancies, the landlord first needs to serve a notice seeking possession.[1]

All the grounds for possession for assured tenancies[2] apply to assured agricultural occupiers except ground 16.[3] Ground 16 is concerned with a property that has been let to a tenant in consequence of their employment and that employment has ceased.

If a landlord wants the property for another worker, they must arrange alternative accommodation or, if they are not able to, they should apply to the local authority to rehouse the agricultural worker.[4] The landlord must show a new worker needs the accommodation and that possession is needed in the interests of 'efficient agriculture'.[5]

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.[6]

If the local authority accepts the landlord's application, it must use its 'best endeavours' to house the worker.[7] This duty is separate from any housing duties it may owe the applicant under homelessness law.

The occupier may have a defence under the Equality Act 2010 if they have a 'protected characteristic' (ie disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, sex, sexual orientation, and religion or belief).

Grounds for possession for occupiers under the Rent (Agriculture) Act

Under the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976, landlords can only gain possession from a protected occupier if the contractual tenancy is brought to an end.

Court proceedings against statutory tenants and protected occupiers must then be issued, and the court can only grant possession if one or more of the grounds for possession are satisfied. If the ground is discretionary, a court can only grant possession to the landlord if it is reasonable to do so. There are ten discretionary and three mandatory grounds.[8] Most of the grounds are similar to those under the Rent Act 1977.

Where possession is being sought because suitable alternative accommodation is provided or arranged by the landlord, accommodation is considered suitable if all of the following apply:

  • it is a protected tenancy or gives equivalent security

  • it is reasonably suitable to the needs of the worker and their family with regard to proximity to work

  • it offers a rent similar to local authority stock or is reasonably suitable to the means and needs of the tenant

Landlords can apply to the local authority for rehousing on a protected occupier's behalf. The rules regarding this are the same as for assured agricultural occupiers. Where a tenant has either accepted or unreasonably failed to accept an offer of local authority accommodation, the landlord can apply for possession under this ground.[9]

The Equality Act 2010 may provide a defence to a tenant with a protected characteristic (i.e. disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy or maternity, race, sex, sexual orientation, and religion or belief) who is subject to possession proceedings.

Agricultural occupiers outside the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976

Some agricultural occupiers whose tenancies started before 15 January 1989 do not come under the protection of the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976. 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, which arises from special provisions relating to possession under section 4 of the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. Their position is the same as for agricultural occupiers whose occupancy started on or after 15 January 1989.

Last updated: 24 March 2021

Footnotes

  • [1]

    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..

  • [2]

    Sch.2 Housing Act 1988.

  • [3]

    s.25(2) Housing Act 1988.

  • [4]

    s.26 Housing Act 1988.

  • [5]

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

  • [6]

    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.

  • [7]

    s.28(7) Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

  • [8]

    Case 2, Sch.4, Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.

  • [9]

    s.11 Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976.