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Avoiding the risks associated with tied housing

Offering a house to a new employee; saying goodbye to an old one

While the offer of rent-free accommodation as part of an employment package is often considered fundamental to attracting skilled individuals to specific rural posts, providing tied housing without appropriate agreements in place presents a substantial risk for farm businesses.

Mitigating this danger is the main topic for discussion at a Ledingham Chalmers’ event at ANM Group’s Thainstone Centre, Inverurie, later this month.

Respected agricultural journalist Eddie Gillanders will chair the seminar, organised by the full-service law firm, on 28 September, where the Ledingham Chalmers rural and employment law teams will share advice on avoiding the pitfalls of tied housing, and security of tenure in particular.

Other special employment rights, specific to agricultural employees, such as additional holidays, will also be under the spotlight.

Two of the firm’s senior associates will present at the event: Veli-Matti Raikkonen from the employment law team works with public and private sector employers on matters including collective consultation, redundancy issues and equal opportunities; while Catherine Bury from the rural team is a Law Society of Scotland-accredited specialist in agricultural law with a particular interest in tenancies.

Mr Raikkonen said: “It’s not uncommon to find employers, and employees, in this sector effectively relying on a gentleman’s agreement — or indeed no agreement at all — when it comes to providing a home for a worker as part of their job on the farm. Unfortunately, this approach can have serious consequences.

“Worst case scenario — an occupant whose employment ends, or is terminated, may not be legally required to leave the property, and, from an employer’s perspective, consequently not being able to offer rent-free accommodation to another employee makes it much harder to attract new workers to the farm.”

Ms Bury said: “A genuine service occupancy where no rent is paid does not create a tenancy or any question of acquiring security of tenure; however, there are strict criteria that must be met to prove this type of occupancy is in place.

“All the more reason then to seek professional advice at an early juncture.”

In addition, Inverness-based partner Kirk Tudhope, who heads the firm's employment law team, will answer questions and participate in the panel discussion.

The event takes place in the Glen Garioch room, Thainstone Centre, on 28 September from 6pm to 8.30pm.

To register, contact elaine.whyte@ledinghamchalmers.com or 01224 408411.

Posted, 04 September 2017 Categories: Events