View Full Version : Renting a horse property - advise for the owner!

Nov. 10, 2009, 09:26 AM
We are thinking of renting our house out until the market gets a bit better in our area. It is a small property, under 2 acres with a two stall pole barn. We have had three horses on there before (reluctantly) but manage fairly well with one or two.

We are going through a realtor for the paper work, etc. but I was wondering if anyone had any first hand knowledge of renting out a horse property and what to be careful about, put stipulations on, etc. I know we are most likely going to limit the number of horses to one, but I am worried that without management of the pastures they will be turned in to dirt lots. Is there anything I can put in a rental agreement to cover that?

I would love to have everyone's experiences.

Ps.. thinking two different things in the title.. "advise the owner" and "advice for the owner" Pick whichever...ha ha

Nov. 10, 2009, 09:51 AM
I have been renting my small farm/house(5 acres) for the past 7 years. I owned it before I got married, and did not want to sell it when hubby and I bought a larger place.

I handle it all myself - marketing/showing/qualifying applicants, etc. I also have a condo I've been managing for 20+ years, so I had some experience in prop mgt before this.

Have a really good lease that meets your state legalities. Make sure your property is up to 'code' with what is required for landlords to supply (you can find this info probably online through your state). Make sure you include your state's equine limited liability language IN your lease agreement, AND have signs posted visibly in barn and arena. I limit the # of horses on my property to 4 - you can limit # of animals, too, just include it in your lease. Most importantly, I have it in the lease that there is to be no 'commercial' activity on the property - no boarding horses, no training horses, no riding lessons - only tenants' own personal horses allowed. I also state that proper riding equipment, including helmet/boots, is strongly recommended. All of this is in the lease they sign.

If your experience is like mine, you will have many more people who WANT to rent it, than are good prospects. I turn about 3 people down per one good qualified tenant.

You can't go by good credit - most renters don't have decent credit - but most will pay their rent before their credit cards. I learned that with experience and probably turned down some people who may have been good tenants based on their credit score alone. Pay attention to how long they've been on their job, and their references from previous landlords.

Make a detailed condition report prior to move in, go over it with tenants and have them sign. Take photos of the place at the time of move-in. Specify in the lease what they are responsible for in terms of upkeep. I have tenants responsible for fixing fence, etc. You really do not want someone calling you whenever there's one board down. Of course, I have to fix boards they haven't fixed when they've moved out - but I take that out of their deposit. Specify what you will charge for removing items left when they move (and they will ALWAYS leave stuff - especially in the barn), etc. etc. I put a per hour charge of $25/hour with 2 hour minimum for hauling junk away, fence repair, etc. That way you can do it yourself, or have enough $ to hire it done. In my experience, people take good care of the house, but do not make repairs outside unless absolutely necessary, and never maintain the property outside (fences/pasture/fencelines, etc.) as well as I would like them. I stipulate all that is to be done - they don't do it - and I always have to hire fencelines cleared, etc. when they move out, and then just deduct it from their deposit.

As far as marketing, I put ads in our local dressage newsletter, have a professionally made sign out front, and my best idea yet, my property has its own website. I have this posted on the gate so 'tire kickers' can go online, see photos, read all the info about the house, and THEN if they're interested, they can call. That cuts out about 95% of the "lookie Lous" who aren't really serious. Here's the website for my farm -nothing fancy, but gets the job done: www.alvinhouse.com

I am what I call a 'reluctant' landlord - never planned to get into it, but love my little farm I bought on my own, and the choice was to either sell it, or rent it out - and I did not want to sell. We are in an area that has not been hit by housing slump and values are rising. I am hoping it will help toward allowing me to actually retire one day!

And, since I bought it 15 years ago, I make a good profit on the rent - which is good because it requires much more upkeep than a 'normal' rental property.

Hope this helps.

Nov. 11, 2009, 09:26 PM
Hi TSHEventing, since your place is setup for 2 horses, I would offer it for 2 horses and put basis conditions in for expected propety maintainance or a non-refundable fee/deposith to cover replacement of grass cost and repairs. Horses are companions, so you might get a large group of possible renters.

Good luck.

Nov. 12, 2009, 04:50 PM
Make a detailed condition report prior to move in, go over it with tenants and have them sign. Take photos of the place at the time of move-in.

We always did this with our rental property. Prior to move-in, do a walk-thru with the renter. Take pictures with a Polaroid and you, and the renter, sign and date the back of the pictures.
This eliminates any disagreement after the fact about the move-in condition!

Be very specific about what they can and cannot do with the property. If they are required to maintain/paint fencing, what do you do if they paint it a different color?
Be very specific about what their responsibilities are regarding maintenance and up-keep - clean gutters? replace air filters? scrub water tubs? replace lightbulbs? (yes, had a tenant who didn't think exterior lights were her responsibility - would call us to come change a light bulb!)

You may get more peace of mind by hiring someone/company to come regularily and do the mowing, edging, yard clean-up, on the property.
Charge enough rent to cover the added cost.

Start by making a list of everything you do weekly, monthly, yearly to maintain your property.
Then add in the "extras" - repairing fences; grading the driveway; trimming trees; cleaning up after storms; sweeping out cobwebs from barns/sheds; planting/fertilizing; and decide what you think is reasonable for you to continue doing as the owner, and what the tenant should plan on doing.

What do you do with manure? What do you expect a tenant to do with manure?
Again, peace of mind may be a dumpster service that will remove it weekly.

When you've found the "perfect" tenant, leave the house as ready as you can - fresh air filters, lawn mowed and edged, fences repaired and painted, gates hanging properly, have the chimney cleaned and the HVAC serviced.
Believe me, an ounce of prevention...!!