Service occupancy

If an employee's accommodation is linked to the performance of his/her duties, s/he is likely to have a service occupancy.

This content applies to Scotland

Definition of service occupancy

If the employee is required to occupy the accommodation for the better performance of her/his duties, s/he will have a service occupancy. [1]

For example, a school janitor who is provided with a house in the school grounds so that he can attend to any emergencies out with normal school hours would have a service occupancy. If the janitor was not expected to carry out any duties out with his normal working hours, he would have a service tenancy as his occupying the accommodation would not have an effect on the performance of his duties.

Service occupiers' rights

Normally the occupier's rights will be laid down in a contract document, for example, an occupancy agreement or contract of service. Usually it will state in such a document that on the cessation of employment, the right of occupancy shall also cease. The right of occupancy ceasing on the termination of the employment may be implied if there are no express provisions. This applies if the employee resigns or is dismissed, even if the dismissal is not justified, as the occupier will no longer have the right to occupy the property. [2]

If the employee does not leave the property the employer has the remedy to seek summary application for ejection. [3] This is reiterated in the Rent Act 1984 which states that it will be unlawful for an owner to recover possession other than by proceedings of the court. [4]

If the occupier's employment is terminated, but the employer does not take steps to recover possession of the property, a tenancy will be created. [5]

Relationship breakdown and service occupancy

If a property is let to an employee in connection with her/his employment, the court cannot grant an exclusion order excluding the employee from the property. [6] Please see the section on relationship breakdown for more information.

Housing Benefit entitlement

If a person occupies a property as a condition of her/his employment, s/he will not be entitled to Housing Benefit for any rent charged for that property. [7] However if the person's employment is terminated and s/he remains in the property, it may be possible to claim Housing Benefit. [8] For more information about making a claim, please see the section on Housing Benefit.

Council tax liability

A property which is occupied by an employee for the better performance of their duties may have a 50 per cent discount applied to the council tax bill. [9] If a property is unoccupied because the tenant or owner is required to live in other accommodation for the better performance of their duties, a 50 per cent discount may be applied to the council tax bill. [10]

Last updated: 6 January 2020

Footnotes

  • [1]

    Norris v Checksfield 1991 W.L.R. 1241

  • [2]

    Scott v M'Murdo 1869, 6 S.L.R. 301: James Gibson & Son Ltd. v Gibson 1899, 36 S.L.R. 522

  • [3]

    Whyte v School Board of Haddington 1874, I.R. 1124

  • [4]

    ss.23-24A Rent (Scotland) Act 1984

  • [5]

    Postcastle Properties v Perridge 1986, 18 H.L.R. 100

  • [6]

    s.4(3)(b) Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Act 1981 and s.104(3)(b) Civil Partnership Act 2004

  • [7]

    s.4(3)(b) Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Act 1981 and s.104(3)(b) Civil Partnership Act 2004

  • [8]

    Part A3 Housing Benefit Guidance Manual

  • [9]

    Sch. 1 para. 2 The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 SSI 2013/45

  • [10]

    Sch. 1 para. 2(1) The Council Tax (Variation for Unoccupied Dwellings) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 SSI 2013/45