In the sharemilking industry at the moment there is a lot of angst around who is responsible for insulation in on-farm accommodation — the sharemilker or the farm owner?

So let me help provide some clarity for those who will work on farms this year. In almost every case, the state of on-farm accommodation is the farm owner's responsibility.
The relationship between the farm owner and sharemilker is a service tenancy with the owner the landlord and the sharemilker the tenant.

Any further accommodation made available to the sharemilker's staff is a service tenancy between the sharemilker and their employees.

The sharemilker is deemed a landlord and will carry responsibility in warranting the accommodation to their staff.

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If there is a staff complaint the sharemilker could be liable in the Tenancy Tribunal if they haven't got the owner to meet the legal requirements under insulation or any other tenancy law.

If this happens then the sharemilker can and should take the owner to the Tenancy Tribunal to recover costs.

The following may sound like Flatting 101, but it needs to be said.

Sharemilkers, before you set up residence in a farm house please take photos of the conditions in which you receive the house.

There is a good schedule you can use in the back of our Federated Farmers' agreements: use it.

Before signing an agreement have this conversation about accommodation with the farm owner upfront, especially if you are going to take on staff and rent out accommodation to them.

Make sure you are clear about your respective responsibilities and potential liabilities. Is each party properly insured, and who is doing house checks, etc?

There are those who are speaking about the law change regarding insulation and smoke alarms as though it has come from nowhere.

That is not the case. This legislative change has been signalled for nearly two years.

Tony Wilding is Sharemilker Farm Owners' Section chairman of Federated Farmers