Agricultural Occupancy Condition

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  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    I have been looking at buying a property with an AOC however it is not owned by anyone in agriculture. His ex wife and children live in the property the divorce was i understand about 1998. The AOC wording is obscure and relates to working in agriculture or forestry or retired from agriculture or their resident dependents. I do not qualify for the AOC however I want the property because of the price. My question is what does resident dependents mean and would the divorce make any difference to whether the AOC us enforceable.

    The children, while they are in full time education, would still be dependents whether the person who was originally qualified to own the house lives there or not. If he is not in agriculture now, he may have been in the past, or it is even possible that his wife was. The divorce wouldn't make a difference if the children are still entitled to support from the relevant parent.

    Regardless of history, the local authority wouldn't want to put the wife & kids out on the street, but if they are selling up now, are you sure they haven't been 'encouraged' to do so?

    From what you have written, it doesn't seem that the tie's wording is unusual, just the standard sort of text used. It may be a local tie (with the words 'in the locality' in it) or it may be non-specific, but I wouldn't bother about that yet.

    Presumably if you do not qualify for the AOC, or intend to, you are hoping that the tie has been broken. Sometimes, when non-compliance can be proven for a long period (I think 10 years) the tie may be lifted or the property given a Certificate of Lawful Use. However, if this were applicable here, how is it that the property is being sold with the tie and at a lower price than it would otherwise command?
  • lincroft1710lincroft1710 Forumite
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    If the AOC can easily be lifted and the vendor realises this, I don't expect the price will remain at its current low.
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    If the AOC can easily be lifted and the vendor realises this, I don't expect the price will remain at its current low.

    The vendor's solicitor will no doubt be 'in the know,' so I wouldn't expect anything obvious to slip past. Same goes for the agent, as these properties are normally sold by rural specialists, not the local branch of Haart or Darlows!
  • NixerNixer Forumite
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    There's a bungalow which was up for let about 18 months back that we signed up for and then found out it had an ag tie and so the letting agent had to give us our money back. It seemed she knew about the tie and didn't tell us but that it was only when some paperwork was done that the council realised it had been let and queried what the new tenants' occupations were. Does this seem likely? I suppose the council would know about us when we registered for council tax.

    Apparently the farm it was next to (which is no longer a working farm but just a rich man's big house with some land and horses on) was sold but the buyers didn't want the bungalow. So the vendors moved but retained ownership on the bungalow and tried to let it. They still haven't let it (I pass it on my way to work) and in fact it's been empty for fifteen years, before us there was an attempt to let a few years earlier which failed. They've supposedly been trying to get the tie lifted but the council won't budge. It seems a shame that it still lies empty when we're told there's a shortage of decent housing.
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Nixer wrote: »
    It seems a shame that it still lies empty when we're told there's a shortage of decent housing.


    You aren't giving any clues about the local authority! Some councils are much more vigilant than others.

    Anything will rent or sell at the right price, so there is no need for this property to be empty. It is a shame, but the owners clearly have their own agenda, and so do the council, by the sound of it.
  • NixerNixer Forumite
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    East Hampshire.

    IIRC the rent was 800 pcm or maybe a bit less which is well below market but probably still a long way out of reach of an ag worker. I can't think of any farms that actually do farming within a five mile radius though and the one farm type worker (he's in forestry) I know already has a tied house near to the forest he manages. So it might be that there aren't any ag workers in the vicinity. There is no land with the house (the garden is tiny) so you couldn't keep livestock and the farm it sits next to isn't a farm anymore so you couldn't work for them.
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Hmmm....It is odd, isn't it? Usually ag-tied places are desirable because of their land, though it's not unknown for some to be large gin palaces on a quarter acre. I've seen some of those in Dorset, so imagine East Hants could be similar.

    I really can't think what the owners are up to, pricing the rent above their target audience and leaving the place empty so long. We all know what effect that has on a property.

    If they are hoping to have the tie lifted, then the existence of qualified sitting tenants wouldn't help their case at all, but neither would advertising the place at a rent inappropriate to the purpose it was constructed for.


    Nowt so queer as folk!
  • SallyW_2SallyW_2 Forumite
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    this is all so useful - have been reading through and picked up lots of tips.

    However a few things remain unanswered for me.

    I'm thinking of buying a bungalow with an ag tie and a hectare of land with glasshouses (though they're in a bit of a state!) The bungalow is nothing to write home about but it's in a good location and the land is fine for what I want it for.

    My first question is - I'm a garden writer and gardener, and would be using the land to grow the things I write about (as well as keep a few sheep, certainly to begin with). I'd be developing it as a kitchen garden: may or may not decide to use the glasshouses, may pull them down instead.

    Does "agricultural" include "horticultural"? And given the way I'm using it - does that count? Especially since my main income is from writing about it?

    Second question - we have children who will one day inherit. Assuming we'd still be in the property, which would definitely be the intention, would the ag tie pass to the children? so would they too have to work in agriculture if they wanted to live there? or would they be forced to sell it - presumably still with an ag tie?

    I know it's looking a long way into the future (we hope!) but we don't want to lumber them with a problem in years to come.

    Third question - should we by some miracle acquire enough money to extend the bungalow in future, or even knock it down and build a new one, would that be OK under the terms of an agricultural tie?

    thanks for your help :D
  • DavesnaveDavesnave Forumite
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    Hello Sally, I'm sure that agriculture includes horticulture, though as late as 2007 a planning officer working for Mendip Council didn't seem to think so. My wife put him right! :rotfl:

    Whether you'd be using the property within the spirit of the tie is more difficult, because it sounds as if your main activity is writing, not horticulture. Remember it is the amount of time you spend on it that determines your main 'work' activity, not the actual income it raises. For example, I'm retired and my pension gives me most of my income, but I'm meeting the conditions of my tie by working long hours in horticulture for a relatively small amount of money.

    As to question two, your children only have a right to live in this ag-tied property while they are dependents, so unless they could fulfil the terms of the tie when they inherited, they'd have to sell it. I'm sure the council would give them enough time to do that - a year or more, rather than months. (TBH our daughter currently lives with us and isn't a 'dependent' in the full sense of the word, but we don't expect anyone will be evicting her any time soon!)

    As for an extension, if the place has not been added-to before, you have a very good chance of being allowed to make it larger in the usual way. Different councils have somewhat varying rules, but some absolutely hate the typical Woolaway bungalow and would certainly favour its demolition & replacement with something closer to a local style. Obviously, most would look with some suspicion on anything palatial, but it doesn't sound as if that what you would be looking to build.

    As I see it, your main problem is convincing the local authority that your gardening /sheep keeping is your main employment. I don't feel that they'll agree your writing about agriculture/horticulture equates to engaging in it.
    However, I wouldn't take my word for that, and I'd certainly be interested to hear what others have to say.
  • In this area (West Sussex) houses with an AOC still seem to be very close to the normal market value anyway? I'd easily fill the requirements as an agricultural contractor. However, I could never afford the prices, so the AOC is a joke really! I can't believe those sold go to genuine agricultural workers ... So who is buying them, and how do they get away with it?

    It would be nice if such ties were of value to those on low agricultural wages, but as they're not ... why have them at all?

    Ivan
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