Farmers Beware: Problems with protected tenancies

21 August 2017

Many farmers provide accommodation to their employees.  In doing so they may find that they have inadvertently granted an assured agricultural occupancy; unintentionally offering their employee a form of security of tenure and entitling them to remain in occupation after they have retired.

An assured agricultural occupancy will protect the tenant even where the freehold ownership changes.  When the employee dies leaving behind a spouse or a child they could succeed to the tenancy.  It could mean that a farmer becomes fixed with a hostile tenant although they will be able to charge an open market rent.

Possession can be recovered where there are rent arrears and it is possible (usually at great cost) to move them into suitable alternative accommodation.  However a court will need to be satisfied that the accommodation is suitable for the needs of the tenant, which is a high threshold to meet.

Fortunately it is entirely possible to prevent an assured agricultural occupancy arising.  All you have to do is serve a notice on the tenant before the tenancy is entered into and before the tenant takes occupation.

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