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Tuesday, 2 October 2023

Guide to renting an allotment

Renting an allotment is a way of accessing land to grow your own fruit, flowers and vegetables. It’s also a great way of exercising and getting involved with your local community. Find out about the different types of allotment, what you can do with an allotment, and the facilities to expect.

Types of allotment

There are three types of allotment:

  • ‘statutory’ allotments - these cannot be sold or used for other purposes without the consent of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
  • temporary allotments - these are not protected from disposal and can be sold
  • privately owned land - this can also be let for use as allotments but is not protected from disposal by your local council

How to get an allotment

Council-run sites

Contact your local council to find out about allotments near you.

Your council will usually own statutory and temporary allotments. They will either allocate you a plot or, in many cases, add your name to a waiting list.

Private sites

If there are no statutory or temporary allotments in your area, your council may be able to put you in touch with private sites.

Alternatively, contact the National Society of Allotments and Leisure Gardens Limited or the Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens. They may be able to offer advice on innovative ways to access land for growing food.

What will be provided to you

A whole allotment is approximately 250 square metres. If you think this is too much, ask your provider if you can rent a half plot or share the plot with a friend.

Facilities will vary, but there are some basic things that you can normally expect:

  • safe and secure access for all users (main paths should be kept clear)
  • an accessible water supply (the cost is often included in the rent)
  • adequate security measures against vandalism, like good fences and hedges

Some allotment sites may also provide:

  • toilets
  • huts that serve as a meeting place
  • sheds for plot holders (you may be charged extra for these)

Your rights and responsibilities as a plotholder

Your rights and responsibilities are set out in a tenancy agreement with the allotment provider.

As a plotholder, you will be expected to:

  • keep your allotment clean
  • maintain it in a good state of cultivation
  • keep minor paths clear
  • keep children and pets under control

Allotments are normally offered to plotholders on a renewable one-year lease. The agreement will usually set out how the tenancy can be terminated. The allotment provider has to give you 12 months' notice, expiring on or before 6 April or after 29 September in any year.

The allotment provider may also give one month's notice to quit if the rent remains unpaid or if you don’t comply with the tenancy terms.

What can I do with my plot?

The main use of allotments is to grow fruit, flowers and vegetables. Depending on your agreement and any other regulations, you may also be able to:

  • keep hens and rabbits
  • keep bees
  • keep certain other livestock
  • build a hut, if one is not provided (it’s recommended that you seek planning permission first)
  • build a pond (subject to certain safety restrictions)

Plotholders are also expected to properly store, use and dispose of any pesticides and fertilisers. Your allotment provider may be able to give you advice on this, and on organic gardening. You can also get advice from the Chemicals Regulation Directorate.

What can't I do with my plot?

There are limits to what you can do with your plot. For example you must not:

  • use it for a business or sub-let it (rent it out)
  • let the plot deteriorate
  • use sprinklers overnight or when you are not there
  • use barbed wire in a dangerous way

In addition, bonfires are either banned or subject to strict conditions.

How much does it cost?

The allotment provider will decide the annual rent, taking into account the cost of managing the site, local needs and any special circumstances. Rent is normally paid in advance.

If you are unhappy about the charges, take your case up directly with the allotment provider. The National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners Limited may be able to give advice.

What happens if the local council wants to dispose of the land?

If your local council wants to sell a permanent allotment site, it must have the consent of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The allotment provider must also fulfill certain conditions, including consulting with plotholders.

If the application is successful, the council has to provide an alternative site. If a statutory allotment provider ends a tenancy, the plotholder is entitled to compensation.

If your allotment is temporary or on privately owned land, then the Secretary of State's consent is not required. However, the allotment authority will usually still need to give you 12 months' notice.

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