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Protective Contract for Land-Owner  RSS feed

 
Anthony Hardt
Posts: 15
Location: Kitsap Peninsula, Washington
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We are seeking a basic contract to use for people who will live on our farm in exchange for labor. It needs to state that the relationship is an at-will proposition that we can terminate at any time, including a 24-48 hour evacuation period. Anyone have a bead on a template for a contract like this? Thanks!!
 
Thekla McDaniels
gardener
Posts: 1826
Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Oooch! good luck with this one! in the two states where I have experience, California and Colorado, statutes are very pro "renter/tenant". An eviction takes 6 weeks, or longer, and various steps involving official notifications. There are people who regularly get evicted, paying for housing only a couple of months out of the year, they know the eviction routine and work it over and over again.

I'd say ask a lawyer familiar with the laws of your state, but all you get from a lawyer is an opinion, with no guarantee on its worth. Possibly you could find out the eviction laws in your region by contacting the local county sheriff's department.

As I said, good luck.

Thekla
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Posts: 6786
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Here and in every other part of Canada, the laws are so pro tenant,  that needed rentals are not built.( A person can move-in and then pay no further rent and it takes months to remove them at the expense of usually around $2500.) It's just not worth it,  so instead they build condos. Rather than having qualified people in charge of running big buildings, cumbersome boards do it. A lust for power becomes more important than technical knowledge, when deciding how the maintenance fund is spent.

 This raises the cost of rent for everyone who does pay their rent. So the laws aren't so much pro tenant as pro horrible tenant. Regular people who are trying to get by,  have to pay more because of this!

All of this is transferable to woofers. I took in some people who were supposed to do a number of things. They did none of it and instead spent their time on vacation, with my farm as home base. I had to give them sufficient notice,  when it was time for them to move out.
 
Bill Erickson
steward
Posts: 1132
Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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I agree with Tekla that your best resource for a "tenant contract" and rules is going to be your local sheriff's office. Since they are the ones who do most of the serving of eviction papers and the like.

Another way would be a labor contractor contract. That is where housing is provided as long as certain agreed upon requirements are met. This gets into labor law, but contractors are much different than paid employees in most places in the US. Termination of the contract is quick and if they are on site, they have to vacate within the agreed upon time frame. This is much simpler in an office or manufacturing environment where access is easily controlled. Definitely a sticky situation.
 
Hans Quistorff
pollinator
Posts: 781
Location: Longbranch, WA
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What was proposed for the non profit that was going to use my extra 5 acres was a tenant farm contract. This would automatically expire at the end of the term unless both parties agreed to extend it.

Went through the experience mentioned by previous commentators with a renter. Theoretically he owes me $10,000 but he is unemployed and living with the people that he allowed to live on the property contrary to the rental contract.
 
Krystina Szabo
Posts: 46
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How about a month-to-month lease agreement, with 30-day notice given by either party? I believe it is unethical to kick people out with less notice than that, barring some heinous illegal activity. If you make the rent worth $X, then you can also have an agreement within the lease (or orally) that a person could work for you at $Y per hour up to the number of hours equal to $X. For example: A home is worth $400/month. (remember, there are 4.3 weeks in a month...) At $10/hour (skilled labor), that person would have to work 40 hours in that month to pay for rent. The work would be at your discretion and times, of course. THEN: you could just get rid of them if they don't work. OR--if something happens and they choose just to rent, they can work offsite and at least you get rent, until you find a new person, THEN you can give them their 30 days' notice. If they feel you are not doing right by them, they can leave when they give you 30 days' notice--which gives you time to find someone else. This is to their advantage, as you can give them BOTH a good job reference and a good renter's reference, as they gave you appropriate notice for both ending work and moving. That is what I have come up with, after being screwed too many times by work-live barter situations. This is clear, and tells people exactly what their work is worth, too. So everyone feels validated. What do you guys think?
 
Dan Mangan
Posts: 26
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As a traveler myself, I would not go near your proposition. I think your better off hireing farm hands instead having someone on property. Unless your worker is godlike in their own way, having such a short notice will keep them in fear. Anyone with half a brain would not aggree to that, and if they do, you will likely have to implement the short eviction. I do not have a template like you ask for. Try looking at people other then free labour.
 
Krystina Szabo
Posts: 46
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Well, a month-to-month lease is the standard here in southern Virginia, both in the city and in the country: nobody around me has an annual lease--it's all month-to-month, or even WEEKLY (in which they just pay TWICE as much for the same home.) I don't know where you are. Thus, the only difference is that, for a home that I would rent anyway for money, the person would have the opportunity to participate to defer rent costs. This helps people with less cash flow or with skills or the determination to live in the country. It gives people a chance to own pets, free board for their horse, etc. and also gives them an opportunity to engage in a profit-based farm venture with us, as a job/entrepreneur. I think if you are from California or New York, perhaps this is anathema to you. But if you know about living in a more rural area, it's a pretty sweet deal. There is NO other place, even a trailer on 500 acres, that will allow you to own a cat or dog or horse or goat. Maybe chickens or a garden, but not an indoor German Shepherd.
I don't want to rent to someone who does not care, then turn around and "get some farm help" with that same money. I'd rather barter with someone who loves and lives on and protects the land, and who is not going to just come and go with no roots. On what planet can you just "get some farm help" who are responsible, capable, caring people, and live down the street? Those are the people I'd want to rent to and share the farm with, anyway!! I'd be happy to sign a 6-month or 1-year lease, but that requires more downpayment from the renter, more proof of income/renter insurance/credit standing, and some people cannot put the electric bill in their name due to circumstances and the very high deposit. These are problems I have had. As well as people who are unhappy and just "ride out" the lease but don't want to be there. THAT is what would be standard through a rental agency.
We are also considering a corporation, where people can buy into shares of ownership. However, that would cost people money. Hard to get around that. I'm just a barter kinda person, and building community is a good thing in my book. I was working hard to find that sweet spot. Once again, I responded to the post with a concrete answer. Anyone else have a concrete answer?
 
Anthony Hardt
Posts: 15
Location: Kitsap Peninsula, Washington
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If you are interested, we decided to go without contracts. So far, so good. We had one person live and work on the property 4 months before deciding his 3-hour commute to school was unsustainable. He left on excellent terms and we paid him cash for his banked labor hours. Then we had a couple that didn't work out because of personality issues. They left without a problem or delay. We've interviewed a number of other folks that didn't seem right for one reason or another. We have 3 people moving onto the farm this month. We vetted them adequately; their character and motives show through if you ask the right questions and correctly read their reactions and responses.

We feel the most important thing is making a personal connection with folks who live here. They become neighbors who are part of our ultra-cool village; and we are selling a concept, not just a temporary situation. We look for people who care about the planet and their home, and also care about community and relationships. We talk about community when we interview them.

We've had responses to our ad saying they were excited about such an opportunity, even if they can't take advantage of it themselves. Many people want to be part of something greater than one person can accomplish alone, and if you can write an ad that conveys that exciting possibility, we believe vetting is enough and contracts are not necessary.
 
Krystina Szabo
Posts: 46
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Anthony: Refer back to your first post, which wanted a contract that could evict someone with virtually no notice. I took a stand and said that I believe this is unethical, and that both parties need to have the opportunity to back out gracefully and with notification. Then there was the backlash about how terrible it would be to not have a long-term contract. Well, 30 days was/is, I believe, the absolute minimum notification one should give, and I offered it equally to both lessor and lessee. That is not to dissuade people from making longer-term contracts, or those that have a definitive ending.
I was surprised to find out you decided to go contract-less. I have also done this numerous times, under wildly different circumstances--although there was always (supposedly) verbal agreement. Because I am the kind of person who will NOT go back on my word/verbal contract, this ALWAYS puts me at a disadvantage. Thus, others can crap on me and I still feel it is necessary to let them continue for the rest of the year/ whatever, even if they do not pay rent OR provide any barter/in-kind help OR even pay on the electric bill (their legal responsibility, but I own the property.) So where does that leave ME? That was just about length of stay, repayment for rent, and bill paying. Howzabout all the myriad ways people can steal and destroy property and poach and drop the ball, etc?
Everyone is in love with my opportunity, too. Hello to all y'all who contact me from all over the world! Agree we all want to be part of something greater, etc. So your exciting advertisement precludes the need for agreement? Because I have learned that a "contract" is just a way to show one another that you understand and that you agree, in case you forget about things later on because you were so thrilled by the "exciting possibility." "Contract" ought NEVER be a way to disadvantage another person, or to pin another person down to any unfair technicality. There should never be any "fine print" or "gotcha." That's soooooo not the point. Less hurt feelings, more stability and security. Any contract ought to HELP the personal connection.
Am I somehow the only one who thinks this? Because NOT having a contract doesn't prevent hurt feelings, insecurity, and bad things happening--even if the other person is indeed a wonderful, excited, "vetted" person who buys into your "exciting possibility." BTW, if all you have is a "possibility," then you might really let other people down, and maybe they need a contract to protect THEMSELVES. (not FROM you, but WITH you, together, justincase-ies...you never know what crisis may happen to you or to them, and an "exit plan"--(thanks B.B. from a wonderful Egalitarian Community which has LOTS of contractual stuff--for that discussion!!) is just part of Good Planning Together. Cuz Stuff Happens. Even to All Good People.
Compassion, people.

 
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