The Employee Tenant

Some landlords provide a rental unit for their employees. Issues arise in that situation, which of course can cause problems for the parties. Landlords need to be aware of some of the common issues that arise, and this article addresses those.

If an employer provides housing for the employee, the employer should have an attorney prepare a lease or occupancy agreement or addendum that governs the responsibilities of the employee’s tenancy or occupancy of the unit. The agreement should impose obligations on the employee, like the treatment of the property, reporting defects or problems, behavior standards, cleaning standards, rent obligations (if any), what the rent value would be if employment is terminated and the employee must begin paying rent, etc. 

The employer may prefer to require the employee to sign a lease agreement with an Employee Tenant Addendum. A sample addendum follows:

If the employee does not pay rent, treat the rental property properly, or behave properly, the landlord may become frustrated on how to handle the employee when there is no written rental agreement and Employee Tenant Addendum.

If there is no written agreement, F.S. 83.46(3) controls what the tenancy is. It states,

If the dwelling unit is furnished without rent as an incident of employment and there is no agreement as to the duration of the tenancy, the duration is determined by the periods for which wages are payable. If wages are payable weekly or more frequently, then the tenancy is from week to week; and if wages are payable monthly or no wages are payable, then the tenancy is from month to month. 

In other words, if the unit is provided to the employee without any rent payment obligation, the tenancy is considered “at will” and thus can be terminated pursuant to F.S. 83.57, unless the parties have entered into a written agreement to the contrary. The term of the at-will tenancy is dependent on how the employee is paid. For example, if the employee is paid weekly, the tenancy is week-to-week; if monthly, it is a month-to-month tenancy; so on, so forth. 

So, what happens when the landlord terminates the employee’s employment? F.S. 83.46(3) further provides for what happens. It states,

In the event that the employee ceases employment, the employer shall be entitled to rent for the period from the day after the employee ceases employment until the day that the dwelling unit is vacated at a rate equivalent to the rate charged for similarly situated residences in the area. 

The employer should seek legal advice if he or she intends to terminate the employee’s employment because you want to ensure that this procedure is followed properly to avoid unnecessarily problems and delays in terminating the employment and tenancy.

F.S. 83.46(3) also provides that that section does not apply to employees or resident managers of an apartment when there is a written agreement to the contrary. It states, “This subsection shall not apply to an employee or a resident manager of an apartment house or an apartment complex when there is a written agreement to the contrary.” Thus, if there is no written agreement F.S. 83.46(3) will apply to that situation.

Property Management Law Solutions, LLC is a Florida law firm that specializes in landlord-tenant law and is a landlord-only law firm. We provide statewide services including evictions, consultation plans, education and training, membership plans, lease agreement plans and more. If you are a landlord or property manager, contact us today or subscribe to one of our online membership plans.