Agricultural Occupancy Conditions

These conditions limit the occupancy of dwellings to agricultural workers wholly or mainly employed in agriculture and are attached to dwellings built in the countryside that would not otherwise be granted planning permission.
As a general rule there are now more tied cottages than there are genuine agricultural workers, the numbers of which have reduced dramatically in the last 30 years.

If an occupier wishes to lift the condition, it must be demonstrated that there is no agricultural need for such dwellings, not just in the immediate locality but the area generally. In many cases occupiers could be subject to enforcement action if not employed in agriculture or retirees previously employed in agriculture. Occasionally tied properties are acquired innocently because the purchasers were not informed of the restriction before taking occupation.

To demonstrate whether or not there is an agricultural need, the property must be placed on the market for an appropriate period at a price that reflects the restriction. This is often at 30% below market value. It is then necessary to vet prospective purchasers to ensure that they will genuinely be wholly or mainly employed in agriculture, otherwise they will simply acquire the property at the discounted price.

Many “hobby farmers” claim to meet the necessary requirements so it is important to examine whether the holding to which the property is tied could financially support the intending occupant. This can be tested by carrying out a financial evaluation to examine the likely set up costs, production levels from particular produce, returns and profit from the intended enterprise.

Local Planning Authorities are often reluctant to see their stock of tied dwellings diminishing and often resist attempts to have them removed even when based on the above approach. Whatever, the lifting of any agricultural tie will give greater flexibility to both occupancy and disposal of property; in the latter case adding value.

If a property has been occupied by a person who does not comply with an agricultural occupancy condition for at least 10 years, then it is possible to obtain a Certificate of Existing Lawful Use enabling any person to remain in the property, immune from Enforcement or Breach of Condition Action.

Services available include;

  • Preparing planning applications to have the condition lifted
  • Advising on the appointment of a specialist to market the property
  • Advising on the appointment of a specialist to prepare financial viability
  • Lodging an appeal in the event of the refusal of planning permission (See Planning Appeals and Expert Evidence