Agricultural Occupancy Condition

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
275 replies 145.8K views
poppysarahpoppysarah Forumite
11.5K Posts
✭✭✭✭✭
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in House Buying, Renting & Selling
Anyone had experience of this?
"Subject to Agricultural Occupancy Condition"

I assume it means you've got to be an agricultural worker to live there - and I think I've heard of a case which someone kept a few pigs to comply - but it's a nice plot with 15 acres of land that I'm sure a few sheepies would love to roam on...
«13456728

Replies

  • PasturesNewPasturesNew Forumite
    70.7K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    These are usually covenants put on a property by the Local Authority. It is to restrict occupancy to agricultural workers who are actively involved in working adjoining land as their main occupation.

    There is a provision in planning law for some of these agricultural ties to be lifted, but you have to demonstrate that there is no longer any need for an agricultural worker, additionally that there is not likely to be again in the future.

    The planning department will also require that the property is marketed WITH the tie, to allow agricultural entrepeneurs to buy it at farm price, so they aren't competing with the rich city types and hoo-rah henrys.

    The property would most likely have to have been unsold usually for a 2+ years before non-agricultural people could buy it. The period of it being unsold would be proof beyond all doubt that there's no chance at all of that property ever being used for agricultural use ever again. So it'd be a LONG time before a planning department would even consider lifting it.

    Maybe any anecdote you read of somebody having piggies would prove to be a case where a property had already been for sale for a long time and there were other circumstances where they could do this.

    So, you need to double check with the EA really. In some areas EAs charge up front money to try to sell these places because they know they will get enquiries (because of the low price) that will take up their time, yet the property will stay unsold for ages.
  • Richard_WebsterRichard_Webster Forumite
    7.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    ✭✭✭✭
    The biggest problem is getting a mortgage. Ordinary residential mortgages are usually not available, so it normally has to be a cash buy. A holding of 15 acres is scarcely viable for a person to make a living in agriculture, and the amount asked for the property would be beyond the reach of an agricultural employee who might want it.

    So it is either being marketed so that it can be shown that despite marketing for 1-2 years, nobody was interested, even at a reduced (about -30%) value, or so that someone will come along, pay cash, and hope the Council will not notice.

    The conditions usually say that the property has to be occupied by a person whose main occupation (or a retired person whose last main occupation) was in agriculture. There are variations on this format and sometimes the precise wording of the planning condition can be important.

    The Council have a practical problem of establishing that a breach of the condition has taken place. Leaving aside the nosey neighbour who phones the Council up about it, perhaps to settle some score with the occupier, if the fields are grazed or crops grown on them, how likely is it that the Council will knock on the door one day asking for proof that the occupier actually works full time in agriculture? So allow a neighbouring farmer to stick his sheep on the fields sometimes, and the Council probably won't find out.

    Whatever you do, don't attract attention by starting stock car racing or car boot sales on the fields or something like that!

    Then after 10 years you submit an application for a certificate of lawful use, showing proof of uninterrupted non-agricultural employment, and you are then safe.
    RICHARD WEBSTER

    As a retired conveyancing solicitor I believe the information given in the post to be useful assuming any properties concerned are in England/Wales but I accept no liability for it.
  • poppysarahpoppysarah Forumite
    11.5K Posts
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    It's on at what I'd consider an inflated price - as someone's said 15 acres isn't an awful lot and it'd be hard to actually make a living on it to pay the mortgage as such.
    500k is a lot imo as it's quite a tiny not posh house - just happens to be on the edge of a village I'd love to live in.
    If I had that much cash lying about to buy a house with I've got a couple of others lined up anyway :)
  • lincroft1710lincroft1710 Forumite
    15.1K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    The value per acre rapidly decreases as the acreage increases. A few years ago for a house with up to 5 acres, each acre would be worth 5 times the value of an acre in say a 200 acre farm.

    Poppy - check with local council that the agricultural occupancy restriction actually exists. About 5 yrs ago I dealt with a case where the owners of a property claimed in good faith that their house had an AOR. I spoke to relevant council official who said no such restriction was attached to that property. Owners were quite happy that their home had increased in value.
  • lostinrateslostinrates Forumite
    55.3K Posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Richard, while I normally defer to your experience I do know family members with fairly easily obtainable mortgages on AOC properties a well of a number of friends. The conditions depend on the property. Some properties with no acrage have an AOC and hav been given them to try and ensure affordable housing for agricultural workers, not to provide them with land on which to work. some have a geographical restriction where th purchaser must prove locality (for the same reason). This is why people retired from faming are oftn within the restriction too Some are farming restricted, some are extendable to horses (sometimes with a notional number of sheep or poultry)(15 acres would give someone having hunter liveries/schooling liveries a tidy income and a fulltime job!).
  • lostinrateslostinrates Forumite
    55.3K Posts
    I've been Money Tipped!
    ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    The value per acre rapidly decreases as the acreage increases. A few years ago for a house with up to 5 acres, each acre would be worth 5 times the value of an acre in say a 200 acre farm.

    .

    Absolutely!

    That said large plots have been plagued with uplift clauses recently making any devlopement, even without change of use, very difficult. I'm trying to return to my training in land based work/rural enterprise now I have a husband who can pay the bills, :rolleyes: and looking for 'reasonable' acrages where we can put up agricultural buildings to house stock etc and would hope in the future to build a house (with or without AOC ;) ) but paying more for a few acres for our own use and not working is also an option..and possibly, sadly, cheaper!
  • aardvaakaardvaak Forumite
    5.8K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    ✭✭✭✭
    poppysarah wrote: »
    Anyone had experience of this?
    "Subject to Agricultural Occupancy Condition"

    I assume it means you've got to be an agricultural worker to live there - and I think I've heard of a case which someone kept a few pigs to comply - but it's a nice plot with 15 acres of land that I'm sure a few sheepies would love to roam on...

    It is a little more than just a few pigs they would have to satisfy the Ag.Dev. officer of local County Council with their ag. plan.

    I owned one that I paid cash for and it was 30/40% cheaper however solc., always warn clients about finance etc., and it took me 170 viewings over four and a half years and 13 contracts to sell it.
  • Debt_Free_ChickDebt_Free_Chick Forumite
    13.3K Posts
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    AFAIK, you don't have to "work the land". So if you satisfied the AOC, you could leave the land "as is". There's no need to put sheep, pigs etc on it. It's the occupation of the owner(s) that counts. Note, however, that there will also be "use" conditions on the land, so you can't just do what you want with it. Forget any idea of developing it, for example. All development of agricultural land is strictly controlled.

    It's quite possible to buy a property with an AOC if, say, one partner works in agriculture e.g. a farm worker in the area and the other happens to "work in the City". The City worker could get the mortgage on his/her income and the partner, the farm worker, would satisfy the AOC. I think the AOC "passes" to dependants too, so if the breadwinner is not an agricultural worker, but their partner is - if the partner dies the non-agricultural worker is not turfed out the property.

    To satisfy the AOC, I believe the person has to work in agriculture (or forestry) within a certain radius of the property (three miles, springs to mind).

    So, my understanding is that to purchase the property at least one party has to work in agriculture, but that it's not necessary for their job/income to come from working the land to which the AOC is attached.

    HTH
    Warning ..... I'm a peri-menopausal axe-wielding maniac ;)
  • Debt_Free_ChickDebt_Free_Chick Forumite
    13.3K Posts
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    One final thing ... properties with an AOC tend to be fairly modest with limited potential for development. Typically, the dimensions are that of a "farm worker's cottage" rather than a "manor"!! So you may well get the land, but the property is likely to be of a modest size.
    Warning ..... I'm a peri-menopausal axe-wielding maniac ;)
This discussion has been closed.
Latest News and Guides