When Managers Are Required

Apartment buildings with sixteen or more units must have a resident manager.

Resident Apartment Managers as Licensees

To have tenant protections, a resident manager must be more than just an employee/licensee.  In rent-controlled jurisdictions, managers not considered tenants can be forced to leave when their employment is terminated.

Several factors are looked at to determine if a manager is a tenant who has protections in rent-controlled jurisdictions after their residency is terminated, or only an employee whose protections are more limited. Those factors include: (1) whether there was a written lease at the beginning of the manager’s time in the building; (2) whether the manager lived in the unit prior to becoming a manager; (3) whether the manager paid rent prior to becoming a manager, and (4) whether the manager paid a security deposit.

Where a resident manager signs a contract that states the occupancy is incidental to employment, a resident manager is not a tenant.  Chan v. Antepenko, 203 Cal. App. 3d. Supp. 21 (1988).

Resident Managers Rights to Eviction and Rent-Ceiling Limitation Protections in Rent-Controlled Jurisdictions

Where a resident manager was not acting as a manager in any capacity when their tenancy commenced, they cannot be evicted merely because they have been discharged as resident managers. See generally Chan v. Antepenko, 203 Cal. App. 3d 851 (1988). Additionally, a resident manager’s rental rate, established prior to becoming the resident manager, cannot be raised to market value merely because they have been discharged as resident manager. However, it is likely that banked rent increases can be enforced pursuant to the annual consumer price index rate.

At Will Employment

Most resident managers are considered “at-will employees,” meaning landlords can fire them without cause.  Even at-will employees, however, cannot be fired for whistle blowing or for a discriminatory reason.

Resident managers who have long-term employment contracts are likely not at-will employees and cannot be terminated. Their contracts should be closely looked at.

Minimum Wage for Resident Managers

Resident managers of apartment buildings must be paid minimum wage.  In San Francisco, resident managers must be paid at least $13 per hour worked.  Any employment contract that purports to pay less than the minimum wage is void.

The hourly rate of non-exempt employees is calculated as one-fortieth of the weekly employee salary. Employees who work more than 40 hours per week are entitled to compensation with overtime adjustments.

Rent Free Apartment as Minimum Wage

Most resident managers receive their apartment as part of an overall compensation package.  Strict rules govern this practice.

Landlords may only credit up to two-thirds (2/3) of the market rental value of the unit, but not more than $451.89 per month for a single manager and $668.46 per month for a couple (Wage Order 5-2001 10 (c)).

Housing accommodations can only count against the minimum wage requirement if there is a “voluntary written agreement which explicitly references that such credits are being applied to the minimum wage obligation of the employer.”  Brock v. Carrion, Ltd., 332 F. Supp. 2d 1320 (2004).