Fair Rents Agricultural Workers and Fair Rents

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					    Fair Rents

  Agricultural
     Workers
and Fair Rents
Fair rents and the rent officer
Under the Rent Act 1977, rent officers
can register a fair rent for most
private-sector tenancies which started
before 15 January 1989. They can also
register a fair rent for protected
agricultural workers under the Rent
(Agriculture) Act 1976. Workers
become protected when they meet
the three rules below.

What is a fair rent?
A fair rent is one which is worked out
by a rent officer or a rent assessment
committee according to the rules in
the Rent Act 1977. All fair rents are
recorded in a local register.
You can find out more from the rent
officer whose address is on the back
of this leaflet.

What are the rules for protected
agricultural workers?
The rent officer can register a rent for
protected agricultural workers who
continue to live in properties provided
by their employer after they’ve
finished working for them, as long as
they meet certain rules.

This can happen even if they finish
work after 15 January 1989.

Before the worker qualifies for
protection, there are three rules that
they must meet.

1 Is this a ‘relevant licence or
tenancy’?
This means that the letting:
  must be for a separate property; and
  must have started before 15 January
  1989; and
  would be protected by the Rent Act
  1977 if certain restrictions in that Act
  were relaxed. (You can find out
  more about this in the leaflet ‘The
  role of the rent officer and the rent
  assessment committee’, which we
  can give you.)

2 Is the property in ‘qualifying
ownership’?
This means that the tenant must work
in agriculture or forestry and that the
property must either be owned by
their employer or that their employer
has arranged for them to use it.
3 Is the tenant a ‘qualifying
worker’?
This means that the worker must work
in agriculture or forestry for at least
35 hours a week for at least 91 weeks
out of the 104 weeks immediately
before qualifying for protection.
This period does not have to be
immediately before the rent officer
registers the rent, as the worker may
qualify for protection many years
before. This last rule allows for
periods of sickness or holiday.

Once all three of these rules are met,
the agricultural worker will qualify for
‘protected occupancy’. This usually
continues until the worker finishes
working for their employer because of
retirement or redundancy. As soon as
the protected occupancy finishes, the
worker becomes a ‘statutory tenant’
and can have their rent registered by
the rent officer.

Keeping protection
Once the worker has qualified for
protected occupancy, or has a
statutory tenancy, they keep their
protection, even if they move to a
different property, as long as their
landlord stays the same. They will
also keep their protection if their job
changes to part time or if they pay no
rent at all as long as they have met
the three rules. However, if they
move to a property owned by a
different landlord after 15 January
1989, they will lose their protection.

If a protected occupier or statutory
tenant dies, their wife, husband or
partner will be protected and take
over the tenancy. If there is no wife,
husband or partner, another family
member may take over the tenancy,
but the rent officer may not be able
to register a rent for it.

Does the rent have to be
registered?
The rent does not have to be
registered but there is a limit to how
much rent can be charged if it isn’t
registered. This limit is 11/2 times the
yearly rateable value of the property.

Registering the rent
Either side can apply for the
registration, on their own or jointly if
they prefer. They can get an
application form from the rent officer,
and there is no charge for the service.
Before valuing the property the rent
officer may make an inspection to get
more information. During the
inspection they will not discuss the
rent that the rent officer may set.

If a landlord or tenant wants to
discuss the rent to be registered,
either of them may ask the rent officer
for a consultation. Sometimes the
rent officer might decide to have one.
It may be held at the property, at the
rent officer’s office or elsewhere.
The rent officer will ask both the
landlord and the tenant (or someone
representing them) to take part.
The consultation will be informal but
organised, so both sides can give the
rent officer as much information as
they want and can bring up points
they are worried about. Everyone will
have the opportunity to ask questions
and make their personal statements
about the property and the rent.

If the rent officer carries out an
inspection and consultation, they will
try to have them at the property, one
immediately after the other, to make
sure that the case is not delayed.
The rent officer has to compare the
property with others, which are let at
open-market rents. They have a wide
range of background evidence of
rents in the area to guide them.

The rent officer will allow for any
improvements carried out by the
tenant during the statutory tenancy
so that they will not be charged for
anything installed at their own cost.
However, they cannot take account of
any improvements the tenant made
during the protected occupancy.

If the tenant has damaged the
property during the statutory tenancy,
the rent officer will take this into
account. They will also consider other
damage or disrepair at the property
and any furniture provided by the
landlord, as well as all other relevant
matters. ‘Disrepair’ means deliberate
damage to the property and
deterioration caused by failure to do
repairs.

The rent officer will then decide if
there is a significant shortage of
similar properties to let in the area. If
there is, and the rent officer believes
that the rent is higher than it would
be if there was no shortage, they will
make an adjustment to the rent.
The law is designed so tenants should
not pay high rents just because of a
general shortage of the type of
property they need. A fair rent is
based on what a tenant would pay
and what a landlord would accept if
there were no shortages of properties
to let in the area.

Finally, the rent officer must work out
what the maximum fair rent is. This
limits the amount the fair rent can be
increased by from the previous
registration. The limit doesn’t apply
the first time the rent is registered. It
is based on the change in the retail
price index since the last registration.
If the rent that the rent officer
decides the property is worth is more
than the maximum fair rent, the rent
officer can only register the maximum
fair rent. If the rent officer’s valuation
is lower than the maximum fair rent,
the valuation is registered.

There are two occasions where the
rent officer will not consider a
maximum fair rent:

   If there is no existing registered rent.
   If the landlord has improved or
   repaired the property and the rent
   officer considers that the
  improvement or repair has made
  the rent at least 15% more than
  the existing registered rent.

We will put the details of the rent
officer’s decision on the rent register
and will send copies to the landlord
and tenant. The registered rent is the
most that a landlord can usually charge.

The rent officer can normally register
the rent again every two years to
keep it up to date, or earlier if a
significant change takes place.
The landlord and tenant can apply
together at any time.

Objecting to the rent officer’s
decision
The landlord or the tenant can object
to the rent officer’s decision by
writing to the rent officer within 35
days of receiving it.

The rent officer will pass the request
and background details to the local
rent assessment committee, who will
look at the case again. The rent
officer must tell each side about an
objection. You must make any
objection to the registered rent direct
to the rent officer and not to the
committee.
Do you want to know more?
This leaflet gives basic details about
agricultural workers and fair rents.
The registration and objection procedure
is covered in more detail in another
leaflet ‘The role of the rent officer
and the rent assessment committee’.

If you need more information or want
more detail, please contact your local
Valuation Office.

You can contact Customer Services at
the Valuation Office Agency on 08450 264 696
or email
NSOhelpdesk@voa.gsi.gov.uk
or visit our website
www.voa.gov.uk

The Valuation Office Agency is committed to providing
services which embrace diversity and promote equal
opportunity for our stakeholders, customers and staff. We
aim to ensure this commitment, reinforced by our values is
embedded in our day to day working practices.

If you require our literature in an alternative format or
language, we may be able to help you.

 Your local Valuation Office is at:




FR/AW/11/06

				
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