Farmers who let homes to their workers are being warned to carefully follow new rules affecting landlords to safeguard their positions.
Helen Gough, an agricultural specialist at law firm mfg Solicitors, says many farmers may not be aware of the new Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) rules which came into force on 1st October this year and could find themselves unable to take back their properties if they do not comply with the new provisions.
The new law gives greater protection to tenants, who will not be given a valid Notice to Quit if the landlord has not previously provided them with an Energy Performance Certificate, a Gas Safety Certificate and a copy of the Government’s ‘How to Rent’ guide.
Many farmers own properties that they let to their workers and the revised position applies to farmers just as it does commercial landlords for any tenancy granted or renewed on or after 1st October.
Landlords will also have to use the new prescribed form ‘Section 21’ notice to end a tenancy, giving two months’ notice – although the new law does not affect periodic tenancies rolling over which were granted before 1st October.
Miss Gough, a specialist on the subject, has recommended that all farmers and landlords get into the habit now of using the new forms.
She said: “I would say to all farmers that they must use the new documentation in all cases and make sure they have complied with the new regulations, even if the tenancy started earlier. From 2018 they are going to apply to all tenancies anyway, new and old, so it’s best to get used to them.
“The most important thing for anyone letting a rural property to do is seek the right advice to make sure they are complying fully with these rules. And then they will need to make sure their tenants sign a form to confirm they have received all the documents.
“Without proof, it is much more difficult to take possession of the property and for farmers that means unnecessary complications that could be avoided to ensure that properties are available as required for incoming workers.”