Rights as a Tenant After Job Ends with Landlord
Authored By: Colorado Legal Services
Does your employer allow you to stay rent free in a unit s/he owns as part of payment for work you do?
Am I a tenant?
No, not unless you have a lease. What you do have is a license that may be ended by your employer when your employment ends.
Should I try to get a lease?
A Lease is a written agreement between an owner and occupant of real property. It spells out in detail the conditions and terms of your occupancy. Your employer is under no obligation to sign a Lease, but may be willing to do so. If your occupancy is in fact part of your payment for work that you do, and it is understood you can no longer live there when the job ends, the lease will say just that. If you want to stay in the same place after the job ends, you’ll need to negotiate a lease with your employer for a specific term stating the amount of rent you will pay if your employment is terminated. It is important to remember that the amount of rent shown in the agreement may be considered income for other purposes (such as income taxes, minimum wage laws and public benefits) so it's important that yo know how the employment for rent arrangement will affect your overall financial picture. Once you have a lease, the employer will simply be your landlord.
Can my employer just throw me out when the job ends if I don’t have a lease?
That depends on whether you and your employer have entered into a License Agreement. Colorado law requires that that a License Agreement:
- Be in writing
- Include your name and the name of your employer
- Include the address of the place where you live
- Contain a statement that the license is a part of payment for your work and may end at any time after the job ends
- Be signed by you and your employer
What are my rights after my job ends if I’ve signed a License Agreement with my employer?
Your employer must give you a written Notice of Termination. The Notice must identify the place where you live, and say when your right to live there ends.
What if I get a Notice of Termination and don’t leave the place where I am living?
If you don’t leave within three days of the Notice date, your employer may show the county Sheriff the License Agreement and the Notice of Termination. The Sheriff will remove you and your possessions from the place you were living.
What if I don’t have either a License Agreement or a lease and don’t leave the place where I am living when the job ends?
If your employer wants you out, he must serve you with a Legal Summons and Complaint in Forcible Entry and Detainer. Undefended, this action will very soon result in the removal of you and your possessions by the sheriff
If you want to defend this action, act immediately. Talk to a lawyer, or contact a Colorado Legal Services office right away to see whether you are eligible for help (you can apply to see if you are eligible for help from Colorado Legal Services here).
What if I do have a lease?
Then you are a tenant, but your right to live in the place where you are living depends on the terms of your Lease. If the Lease gives your employer the right to end the Lease when your job ends, you’re no better off than under a License Agreement. If the Lease runs to a certain date, you can stay until then, if you pay the rent specified in the lease and you comply with its other terms. Remember - the fact that your employer terminated your employment DOES NOT excuse you from paying rent under the lease.
What if my employer owes me wages?
You have rights, but they do not include a right to remain in the place where you live contrary to a License Agreement or a specific term in a Lease. If you were fired, wages must be paid on the date of discharge. If you quit, you’ll get your check on your employer’s next regular payday. This situation can get complicated. Colorado Legal Services has a handout entitled “Does Your Employer Owe You Wages?” which you may find helpful.
The information above is provided by Colorado Legal Services. It is intended as general information only, and is not meant as legal advice for any specific situation. If you need legal advice, consult an attorney of your own choosing. If you cannot afford an attorney, talk to Colorado Legal Services: 303-837-1321.