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Farmworker Housing and Land Contracts

Contents

    Your Employer Must Give You Information about Your Housing

    The housing your employer provides must be decent, sanitary, and safe. Agricultural employers must post bilingual notices of your legal rights. They must also give you the following information:

    • Who is in charge of your housing

    • Who you complain to if there are problems with your housing

    • How much the rent is and how you get a receipt

    • How much the utilities cost (electricity, gas)

    • Whether your housing has been licensed and inspected (If not, the operator may be required to pay a fine of up to $1,000 per day.)

    Housing Requirements

    Migrant Labor Camp Rules require the migrant housing operator to provide the following things:

    • Adequate water supply (drinkable running water in every unit)

    • Sanitary facilities (adequate and clean toilets, showers, and sinks)

    • Adequate electrical service, and heat from September 1 to May 31

    • Garbage disposal and pest control

    • Cooking, eating, and refrigeration facilities

    • Fire extinguishers (within 100 feet of unit)

    • A sufficient number of beds with clean mattresses

    If you want an inspection of your unit or labor camp, call Farmworker Legal Services (FLS) at 1-800-968-4046. FLS can let the state’s inspectors know.

    You cannot be fired or evicted for asking for an inspection.

    You Cannot Be Evicted without a Court Order

    If you live in a migrant camp, you have certain legal rights. You have these rights even if you are laid off or you quit working for the camp owner. No one can force you to leave the migrant camp unless the owner gets a court order signed by a judge to evict you and your family. The camp operator cannot evict you by removing your possessions, turning off the utilities, or changing the locks. Police agencies know that they cannot help a landlordevict you unless there is a court order.

    Your boss cannot withhold your paycheck to force you to leave the camp. If you worked as a hand-harvester, you must be paid within one day if you are fired or laid off, or three days after your last day of work if you quit. Otherwise, you must be paid no later than your next regular payday. If you were promised a bonus, you should receive it in full when you finish your part of the work agreement or contract.

    It does not matter if you pay rent or not. The law protects you and your family even if you do not pay for your housing. If you receive any notice to quit or vacate, call Farmworker Legal Services at 1-800-968-4046 immediately — even if you do not pay rent.

    Rent and Utility Charges or Other “Deposits”

    Rent cannot be charged in some government-funded migrant units. Rent or other charges cannot be deducted from your paycheck unless authorized by you in writing each payday. Utility charges (for electric or LP gas, like propane) must be reasonable.

    Always get a receipt if you pay rent in cash.

    Mobile Home Parks and Subsidized Housing

    Special laws protect tenants living in mobile home parks and subsidized housing. Go to the toolkit I’m Being Evicted from a Mobile Home Park or Eviction from Subsidized Housing for information.

    Buying a House on Land Contract

    A land contract is an agreement between a buyer and a seller that states the buyer is purchasing property but will not receive the legal title until the debt has been paid. The purchase price is paid in installments, and there is no promissory note or mortgage between the seller and the buyer. You should understand what a land contract means before signing it. Talk to a lawyer when making a land contract deal. Under Michigan law, the seller must tell the buyer in writing about all known defects (problems) in the property. Ask the seller for a Seller’s Disclosure Statement before buying property or signing any legal documents.

    If you have questions about a land contract, call Farmworker Legal Services at 1-800-968-4046.

    This information was provided by Farmworker Legal Services (FLS). FLS is a legal aid office with lawyers and other legal staff who provide free legal assistance and referrals to migrant and seasonal farmworkers throughout Michigan.