Agricultural workers' rights

5. Agricultural tenancies

If an agricultural worker gets a self-contained home as part of their job they may automatically have an ‘assured agricultural occupancy’. This won’t happen if they had a written notice at the start of the tenancy saying that it was an assured shorthold tenancy instead.

How it starts

An assured agricultural occupancy starts when the worker has been employed in agriculture (by any employer) for 91 weeks of the last 104, including paid holiday and sick leave, and:

  • the tenant works 35 hours or more a week
  • the accommodation is owned by the farmer, or arranged by them

Who can get one

The tenant must be a serving farm worker or a:

  • farm manager or family worker
  • retired farm worker
  • farm worker forced to give up work
  • former farm worker who has taken other employment
  • deceased farm worker’s widow, widower or family member of a worker and were living with the worker when they died

They have to have been working for the farmer who provides or arranges the accommodation.

You can get more detailed information on who can get an assured agricultural occupancy in ‘agricultural lettings’.

Rent increases

The rent can go up at any time if the worker agrees - if they don’t, then it can only go up yearly, unless a different interval is stated in the tenancy agreement. The farmer must tell the worker in writing before putting the rent up.

The employment ends

If the worker loses their job or retires, they can stay in the accommodation. The farmer can ask them to start paying rent - or a higher rent than before. If the farmer and worker can’t agree on a rent, they can go to a rent assessment committee.

If the farmer wants the property back, they can apply to the courts, although they may have to provide the tenant with suitable alternative accommodation. If nothing suitable is available, the tenant may be entitled to re-housing by the council.

The farmer wants to end the tenancy

The farmer may want the property back for a new worker, or to end the tenancy because the worker is:

  • not paying the rent
  • breaking terms of the tenancy agreement
  • damaging the property or its contents
  • being a nuisance to neighbours

If the worker doesn’t leave willingly, the farmer will have to go to court, and the court will decide whether the worker has to go. If the worker is still a serving farm worker, the farmer may have to provide alternative accommodation.

If a tenant dies

The tenancy will automatically pass to their husband or wife. If they didn’t have a husband or wife, it can pass to another family member if they lived there for the 2 years before the worker’s death.