But, if there is no housing agreement, you have little or no control over who lives in the house.
Miguel and Jose were hired by your dairy, and with that employment came a house. What you didn’t know when you hired Miguel and Jose is that they have eight cousins who are now coming to town looking for jobs. Before you know it, you have eight more guys sleeping on the floor. Or, you hired Joe, and then his girlfriend moves in, and then her adult children move in unannounced.
These are both very real situations that can be avoided if you have a written housing agreement, says Tom Maloney, senior extension associate in the Department of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University. A written agreement allows you to clearly communicate your expectations related to occupancy of the housing. And, it lets you maintain control of your housing property.
Sets housing rules
Control liability by writing housing rules into a housing agreement.
Any kind of animal is a potential for liability. Require health records for pets, and require that an employee obtain written permission from you before an animal is brought into the housing, notes Raimondo. Make sure that all animals on the premises have current vaccinations.
You can also require all dogs to be properly restrained in pens or on a leash. “If someone is bit by an employee’s dog, the dairy will get sued, not the employee,” explains Raimondo. Female dogs in heat wandering the property can also create problems.
Prohibit employees from having animals that are banned by law. This is a huge area of risk for dairy owners and needs to be enforced. Keep your eyes open; if you see roosters in your employees’ backyards, or cock-fighting gear hanging up outside the house, you can’t deny that you don’t know about it, notes Raimondo. Without a written agreement, it becomes a he said/she said argument.
Rules that prohibit children from playing in non-safe areas, such as traffic thoroughfares and animal pens, can be written into a housing agreement. It should also be stated that employees cannot bring children to work with them.
Having these rules in a housing agreement can prevent a tragedy from occurring or protect you from the liability of a tragedy. “If a child is stepped on, injured in the workplace or killed, you will be dealing with a very tragic, ugly and expensive lawsuit,” notes Raimondo.
A written housing agreement can also prevent derelict cars on premises, establish quiet hours, alcohol use, and make employees responsible for visitors.