23 March 2018
Owners of farm cottages should take note of a new set of prescribed forms, which should be used to prevent a tenant from becoming an assured agricultural occupant.
Owners of farm cottages which are to be let to agricultural workers should take note of the government's introduction, on 6 April 2015, of a new set of prescribed forms relating to tenancies. In order to prevent a tenant becoming an assured agricultural occupant it is necessary to serve a prescribed form on the tenant prior to the tenancy being entered into.
This gives notice that the tenancy is to take effect as an assured shorthold tenancy. The correct form to serve is Form 9, which has now replaced the old Form 7. Use of the old form is no longer valid and the new form can be downloaded here.
If the form is not served, then, if an agricultural worker lives in a self-contained home as part of their job, they may automatically have an assured agricultural occupancy. If an owner wanted to end an assured agricultural occupancy, and the tenant did not leave willingly, they would then have to go to court. The court would decide whether the worker has to leave. The owner may have to provide the tenant with suitable alternative accommodation, depending on the circumstances. An assured agricultural occupancy can also be passed to a tenant's spouse, or, if they don't have a spouse, then the tenancy can pass to another family member if they lived there with the worker for the two years before the worker's death. A succession could therefore be a further consequence an unintended assured agricultural occupancy.
The publication of the new form is a reminder that if an owner wishes to avoid an agricultural worker having a more secure form of tenancy, the correct procedures should be followed.