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When do I become a resident and have tenant rights while staying at a motel?

Medford, OR |

Over a month ago I, my wife and brother moved into a motel room in Oregon temporarily until we can find an apartment. A short time later, the owner offered to rent a separate room to my wife and I in exchange for working the night bell shift.12am to 6am. We thought it was a good deal so we accepted. The following week we were on a 32 hr a week schedule PLUS the night bell shift! No pay! Just for the room. He's always adding more work without pay. I want to stand up to him but, I don't want to get kicked out onto the streets before we can find an apartment. Do we have tenants rights at this motel? The owner also changed our check-in date on the rent receipt even though we never checked out from the room since we arrived. Does that change our rights as a tenant?

If we have tenant rights, do they also apply to the room we have been working for?

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Attorney answers 2


Tenants' rights only vest under rental agreements. It sounds like you have at least an oral rental agreement for the room in which you reside in exchange for your labor. The answer to your question is definitely maybe. More information is required. In order to better assess your status, I would want to examine every piece of paper related to your occupancy of the room(s) as part of a more in-depth investigation which may also include interviews of potential witnesses.

Since your immediate concern is not getting evicted before you have found an apartment, you should definitely keep looking for that new place. I think it would be wise, though, to carve out some time to meet with an experienced landlord-tenant attorney for a consultation (if you go through the Oregon State Bar Lawyer Referral Service (800-452-7636;, you cannot be charged more than $35 for a half hour consultation).

You may also have wage claims, since you are working more than you bargained for. You'll have to be able to provide some evidence of this, so make sure other employees, contractors, or customers can be witnesses to your labor above and beyond the rental agreement. Ask the Lawyer Referral Service for both a landlord-tenant lawyer and an employment lawyer if you call them.

DISCLAIMER: I am not your attorney until you 1) sign a fee agreement with me, and 2) pay a retainer pursuant to said agreement. The response given does not create an attorney-client relationship. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in Oregon (attorney has resigned in good standing from the Arizona bar and may be reinstated upon application).


I urge you to heed Attorney Merrill's wise suggestions for your situation.

Disclaimer Information on this site is provided by Brian Scott Wayson as general information, not legal advice, and use of this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have questions about your specific situation, please call an attorney.

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