If your accommodation is 'tied', that is, provided as part of your job, your rights to stay there will depend on the kind of agreement you have with your employer/landlord and whether this agreement is a lease or a service occupancy.
Tied accommodation and occupancy agreements
If you live in tied accommodation provided by your employer, you will probably have either:
- a service occupancy, or
- a service tenancy.
If your employer pays your rent but you have a separate tenancy agreement with a landlord, you will not have a service occupancy or service tenancy. You will have the kind of tenancy laid out in your agreement, for example a short assured tenancy.
What is a service occupancy?
You will probably have a service occupancy if:
- your tied accommodation is provided by your employer, and
- you live there rent free in return or part return for working for your employer, and
- it is stated in your employment contract or letting agreement that the tied accommodation will end when your employment ends, or
- it is stated in your employment contract that you have to live in the tied accommodation in order to do your job properly, or
- it isn't stated in your contract that you have to live in the tied accommodation, but it would be impractical or impossible for you to carry out your job if you didn't.
For example, you may have a service occupancy if you:
- are employed as a live-in nurse, carer, nanny, au pair or housekeeper
- work in a nursing home or sheltered housing
- are a member of the clergy
- work in a hotel, pub or restaurant and live on the premises
- are a caretaker, a park or grounds keeper or a gardener.
What is a service tenancy?
You will probably have a service tenancy if:
- you choose to live in tied accommodation provided by your employer, or
- your employer wishes you to live in tied accommodation they provide for you, and
- you have a lease and pay your employer rent in order to live in the tied accommodation but you don't have to live there in order to carry out your job properly.
Even if your employment contract states that you must live in the tied accommodation in order to take on the job, you will still probably have a service tenancy rather than a service occupancy if you don't need to live in the tied accommodation in order to carry out your job better.
What rights will I have in tied accommodation?
If you have a service tenancy, you should have the rights of a tenant. These rights will differ depending on:
- who your employer is
- what kind of tied accommodation you're living in
- what kind of tenancy agreement you have.
- if you have a service tenancy and your employer is a private company or individual, you will probably have a short assured or assured tenancy
- if you have a service tenancy and you are employed by the council, you will probably have a Scottish secure tenancy
- if you have a service tenancy and you live with your employer, you will probably have a common law tenancy.
An example of a service occupancy and service tenancy
If you are a teacher employed by the council, you may be offered tied accommodation with the job. In this case, you are likely to have a tenancy agreement rather than a service occupancy, because your ability to teach is not linked to your living in the tied accommodation provided.
If on the other hand, you are a teacher at a boarding school and part of your job involves supervising pupils during the evenings and at night, it may well be written into your contract that you must live on the premises and you would not be able to carry out your job properly if you were living elsewhere. In this case, you would probably be a service occupier.
I'm a service occupier - what if I lose my job?
If you are a service occupier, you will have to leave your tied accommodation if you leave your employment. However, you should be given notice to leave your tied accommodation. The amount of notice you are given may be specified in your employment contract or service occupancy agreement.
What if I think I've been unfairly dismissed?
If you do not agree with the reasons for your dismissal, you may be able to apply to an employment tribunal. Visit the employee section of Direct.gov to find out more about your rights as an employee.
What if I resign?
If you decide to resign from your job, you will also have to leave your tied accommodation. The length of notice you need to give your employer will probably be stated in your employment contract, but should be at least a week.
Can my employer force me to leave?
It is illegal for your employer/landlord or anyone acting on their behalf to use force to make you leave your home. The use of force can include:
- changing the locks while you are out
- cutting off services such as gas, electricity or telephone
- removing your belongings from the property
- removing you physically from the property.
Read more about illegal eviction.
If your employer asks you to leave and you refuse, they should apply to the court for an eviction order. This will probably be granted straight away, and your employer can then call in the sheriff officers to remove you from the property. You may also end up paying your employer's legal expenses.
Find out more about going to court for eviction and sheriff officers.
I'm a tenant - what if I lose my job?
If you live in rented accommodation provided by your employer and you have an assured, short assured, Scottish secure or common law tenancy and you are dismissed or resign from your job, your employer will probably ask you to leave your accommodation. However, they cannot throw you out over night, but must follow the proper procedures for evicting you as a tenant. Depending on your tenancy type, this may include:
- sending you an official notice to quit telling you when you have to leave
- giving you the correct amount of notice before you have to leave
- getting an eviction order from the court.
Go to the section on eviction to find out more about the procedures landlords have to follow to evict tenants.
Can I make a homeless application?
If your employment ends and you have to leave your home but have nowhere else to go, you can make a homeless application to the council. Depending on your situation, the council may offer you:
- help and advice to find a new home, including help in applying for council housing
- somewhere to stay while you look for a new place to live
- a new home.
Will the council think I'm intentionally homeless?
When you make a homeless application, the council will not offer you permanent housing if they believe you deliberately did or didn't do something which caused you to lose your home. This means that when the council is assessing your situation to see what help they should offer you, they will look at the reasons why you left your tied accommodation, and therefore also at the reasons why you left your job.
If you were sacked from your job for misconduct, the council may decide that you made yourself homeless intentionally. However, you would not be found intentionally homeless if, for example:
- your contract had expired
- you had retired
- you had been made redundant
- it was no longer reasonable for you to work there.
Find out more about intentionality.
What if the property needs repairs?
Your service occupancy agreement or tenancy agreement will probably state the kind of repairs your employer/landlord is responsible for, and the kind of repairs you should carry out yourself. Your employer/landlord must ensure that the property is safe and fit for you to live in and meets the repairing standard. This is a basic level of repair that is required by law. They must also provide you with information about the repairing standard and what you can do if your home is not up to standard. The section on repairs explains this in more detail, and looks at what you can do if your employer/landlord refuses to carry out repairs.
Where can I get help and advice?
In practice, it can be hard to decide whether a person living in tied accommodation has a service occupancy or a tenancy agreement. If you are asked to leave your tied accommodation and are unsure of your rights, you should get legal advice from a solicitor. Contact the Law Society of Scotland to find a solicitor near you.
What if I'm employed by a gangmaster or labour provider?
What is a gangmaster or labour provider?
A gangmaster or labour provider is an individual or business who supplies labour to agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering and food processing and packaging, or who uses labour to provide a service such as harvesting or gathering agricultural produce or shellfish. Gangmasters must have a licence from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), and must stick to the conditions of this licence. These conditions set standards for any tied accommodation the gangmaster provides.
You can check to see whether your employer has a licence at the GLA website.
What standards does the tied accommodation need to reach?
If you have a permanent or temporary contract with a gangmaster or labour provider and are provided with tied accommodation as part of your contract, or have money deducted from your wages to pay for your tied accommodation, the tied accommodation must:
- be safe
- have a current gas safety certificate
- have facilities for water, power, heating, bedding and sanitation
- have any electrical equipment supplied properly maintained
- not be overcrowded
- meet the repairing standard
- meet HMO standards.
In addition, the employer or employer's agent must be registered on the Scottish Government's landlord register.
How much rent should I have to pay?
The rent charged for the tied accommodation must be reasonable. This means it must be similar to other rents charged for private rented housing in your area. If your rent is significantly higher, you can report your employer to the GLA.
Do I have to stay in tied accommodation provided by my employer?
It's important to note that your employer can't force you to stay in the tied accommodation that they provide, and this cannot be a condition of your employment. You have to agree to stay there, and that money will be deducted from your wages to pay for it.
If you live in tied accommodation provided by a gangmaster and you want to move out and find your own place to stay, your employer must allow you to do this, after you've given an agreed amount of notice.
What should I do if my employer doesn't stick to the terms of their licence?
If you think your employer may be breaking the terms of their licence, you can call the GLA on 0845 602 5020 (lines are open 9am–5pm). You don't have to give your name, but can remain anonymous if you prefer. You can also email the GLA on firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 at any time.
You can find out more about your rights at the GLA website.
What if I'm an agricultural worker?
If you work on a farm and live in tied accommodation let to you by your employer as a condition of your employment, you will be an agricultural occupier, with different rights. Contact a Shelter advice centre or Citizens Advice for more advice on your rights.
What if I'm in the armed forces?
If you are serving in the armed forces, you will be provided with accommodation in barracks (single living accommodation) or in Services Families Accommodation (SFA). You can find out more about this at the Army's Soldier Welfare website.
For more information on housing issues if you or your partner are in or have just left the armed forces, contact:
The Scottish Government has also produced a housing guide for armed forces personnel.