What are the legal aspects of working in lieu of rent?

I have a group shop where some renters work in lieu of rent.

Asked on March 19, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

It is not working in lieu of rent in a sense: the work IS the rent. That is, the work "pays" for the space. You can do it two ways:
1) If the workers are actual employees of yours, then they receive the space as part of their employment; there should be an agreement stating that they receive their space as part of their employment by you, and that their right to use and occupy the space ends if and when their employment ends. Typically, they have to be out within 3 days of employment ending or you could then evict.
2) In a similar, but not identical way, if they are not employees of yours but still do work for you in exchange for their space, have a written lease clearly outlining what they need to do each month as "rent"--in exchange for the spouse. It could be clean up some area nightly, it could be remove garbage weekly, it could be to help you in your business 20 hours per month--whatever you and they agree to. If they fail to honor their obligations, you could then go through the process to evict them for breach of lease or contract.

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