Eviction of agricultural occupiers
Check your housing rights if you are an agricultural worker and live in tied accommodation (accommodation which is provided as part of your job) and your employment and tenancy come to an end.
Your tenancy rights as an agricultural occupier
If you live in tied accommodation, you will probably have either:
- a service occupancy, or
- a service tenancy.
The page about tied accommodation explains the difference between a service occupancy and a service tenancy, and also explains your rights.
If you are an agricultural occupier, you will have some extra rights to stay on in your home after your employment and tenancy end, for example, if you retire, are made redundant or are dismissed. These rights are additional to the rights outlined in tied accommodation. You have extra rights to stay if the agricultural occupier has died and you were their wife, husband or civil partner, or, if they don't have a surviving spouse or civil partner, you are another member of their family who was living with them when they died.
It's important to remember that the accommodation must have been provided as part of your terms of employment. If you rent your home from your employer under a completely separate agreement and do not have to live there to do your job or are not given accommodation in place of part of your wages, the information on this page probably will not apply to you. However, this is a complicated area of law, so get advice from a solicitor who specialises in agricultural or employment law to make sure. Use the Law Society of Scotland website to find a specialist solicitor in your area.
What is an agricultural occupier?
An agricultural worker is anyone working as an employee or apprentice in the agricultural sector. This includes:
- dairy farming
- raising livestock
- growing crops
- market gardening.
An agricultural occupier is an agricultural worker whose accommodation is provided by their employer as part of their terms of employment.
What should I do if my employer asks me to leave?
Your employer/landlord cannot evict you from your home without getting a court order. If your landlord does this or tries to do it, you can report them to the police because evicting a tenant illegally is a criminal offence.
Before they apply for a court order, your landlord should first send you a 'notice to quit', asking you to leave. They must give you at least four weeks' notice before you have to leave, or 40 days' notice if your tenancy has lasted for longer than a year. Ask for help from an adviser if your employer asks you to leave. They can help you negotiate with your employer/landlord and prepare your case for court (see 'What does the court need to take into account?' below).
What if I don't want to leave?
If you don't want to leave when the notice to quit expires, your landlord can apply for a court order to evict you. In this case, you'll be sent a summons, to let you know when your case will call in court. You can find out more about going to court for eviction here.
What does the court need to take into account?
When deciding whether or not to suspend the eviction, the court will need to consider whether:
- there is any other suitable accommodation available to you
- the running of the farm would be affected because your accommodation is not available for a new worker
- it would cause greater hardship to suspend the eviction than to end the tenancy now
- you have damaged the property in any way or behaved in an antisocial manner (in this case the court is unlikely to suspend the order).
Therefore, before you go to court, it's important to think about these things and work out what you want to say about them. For example, if you have a new home to move to but need to stay in your current accommodation while you're waiting for repairs or adaptations to be carried out, the court would consider this a good reason to suspend the eviction.
What can the court decide about your eviction?
Can the court suspend the eviction?
If the sheriff grants your landlord an eviction order, as an agricultural occupier (or the spouse, civil partner or family member of a deceased agricultural occupier) you can ask the court to suspend the eviction. If you've been taken to court within six months of your tenancy ending, the court can suspend the eviction until that six months is up.
Can the court impose any conditions?
The court may decide to suspend the eviction on the condition that you (or your employer/landlord) do certain things. For example, they can order you to pay back any rent arrears you owe, or pay compensation to your employer.
What if the court doesn't suspend the eviction?
If the court doesn't suspend the eviction and you think this is because your employer/landlord has misrepresented the situation to the court (for example, they have made it seem as if the running of the farm will be badly disrupted when this is not the case), you may be able to claim compensation through the court. However, this is only the case if the eviction order was granted within six months of the date your tenancy ended.