By Robert Nislick

A large residential property, whether a condominium or a rental, may need to provide housing to a building superintendent or custodian. Or sometimes, a business such as a hotel, resort, or a B&B, may need, or be able, to provide on-site housing to staff members and maintenance people.

The ability to house an employee can provide benefits for everyone involved. For the business owner or building owner, it is helpful to have someone who lives on the premises who can be contacted easily to take care of a problem at a moment’s notice. For the employee, he or she may receive good housing in a great location, which may otherwise be impossible to find or afford. For example, housing in the summertime is extremely limited and expensive on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

The employer, building owner, condominium trustee, or property manager, will want to structure the manner in which she provides housing to her employee so as to make it as easy as possible to evict the employee, if something unfortunate happens and the employee must be terminated.

Mainly, the employer should not assume the status of a landlord vis-à-vis the employee. The nature of the housing relationship between the employer and the employee should not become one of landlord and tenant. Especially where the employer is providing a benefit to the employee, in the nature of free housing, the employee should not also become a tenant. Instead, the employer can better protect herself if she provides housing as a licensor, and the employee accepts the housing as a licensee. One case has held that generally, occupancy which is subsidiary and necessary to the efficient performance of the employee’s duties does not give rise to a landlord-tenant relation.

About the author: Attorney Robert Nislick is a Massachusetts lawyer with experience in real estate disputes and landlord-tenant matters. Contact him to draft an employee housing license, or for more information.

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