View Full Version : Renting our horse property

Leroy Brown
Aug. 13, 2010, 03:35 PM
So we have a 4 acre farm that we've spent many years working on to get it where we want. We are now being sent abroad for 2 years with my husband's job and we are looking to rent out our place while we're gone. We have a 9 stall barn, with arena, and about 6 large pastures. We've got people interested and we've met them and they seem very nice. Professional people, good jobs. They are very involved in a rescue horse facility. When we met them they said they wanted to bring 1 maybe 2 horses onto property (their own horses). However, when I speak to realtor today, he says they would like to be able to bring up to 6 onto property from the rescue facility.

I'm aware of the other threads around renting stables, including liability, etc, my question is should we;

1. Run a mile or
2. Limit to 2 horses or
3. limit of 4 but with increase in rent or
4. Limit of 6 with more increase in rent

My worry is that they end up filling up barn and wrecking pastures, barn, etc with many different horses coming and going. I also worry that many different people will come on to the property to help with rescue horses and that = more liability. Am I being paranoid or sensible?

Aug. 13, 2010, 03:44 PM
I think that I would make it very, very clear about how many horses and dogs are allowed and that all animals must be owned by the renter. There is a property nearby me that was rented to a couple who had a "couple of horses" which the owner didn't object to. The next thing they knew he had a full boarding barn situation going with too many horses for the property where he was also giving lessons. He really got on the land lord's last nerve when he started fencing in more acreage (which was not a part of his lease) and was subsequently evicted. They have since been kicked out of two more properties in the area.

It can take years for an over grazed pasture to recover...you are well within your rights to protect your property. Hopefully you can have someone in the area act as your property agent and keep an eye on things while you are abroad.

Aug. 13, 2010, 03:47 PM
IMHO it is a red flag that they have already told you one thing and the realtor another, in terms of number of horses. And I am sorry, but the rescue thing also throws up another. Time and time again, you see people a bit off kilter who "help" rescues. (yup, my flame suit is on) I would want to know the rescue, and have mutual friends with anyone renting your farm. Sounds like you have put alot of time and love into your farm, and you deserve to come home to it, not in shambles.
I know a lot of people looking to rent barns, I would keep looking :)

Reynard Ridge
Aug. 13, 2010, 04:01 PM
Sensible. :yes:

No advice, but can you add a data point to help the folks who are more able to help you properly: how will you monitor from abroad? Do you have friends and family who will regularly check or will you be dependent on the renters to keep you apprised?

Aug. 13, 2010, 04:19 PM
Even as a rescue supporter, I'd say you're being sensible to worry. Especially if they didn't bring up to you that they were considering bringing "outside" horses. That's really a whole other ball of wax, having horses on your property that don't actually belong to the people renting it.

And you don't even know why they want those horses there. Just to keep them somewhere? Presumably since their own horses are there, they won't be using it for quarantining. Will they be having prospective adopters come out (HUGE liability, having random strangers come ride horses on your property!)? Will they be training the horses there?

Plus...who's responsible for fixing/paying for fixing if, say, one of these rescue horses breaks a fence? Are you as the owner expected to eat that cost (the way my landlord is expected to handle the costs fixing anything that breaks around the house as long as I was using it in a normal fashion)? Do the renters do it? Is the rescue responsible?

I'm not saying it's an absolute don't do it, rescues always need help with space, after all, and it's commendable that these folks want to help out.

But it's not so commendable they didn't give you a heads up and I think if you do go forward with this, you're going to want a very specific contract with them that details what horses are allowed on the property, what activities, and who is responsible for what. You'll likely also want to have someone keep a check on it, like Reynard Ridge mentions.

Aug. 13, 2010, 04:36 PM
If you have a 9 stall barn, any renter will be tempted / likely to bring in nine horses. Unless there are local zoning laws that specifically control numbers of horses per acre, it will be difficult for you to enforce a limit on the numbers of horses, even with a good rental contract and a property manager who is active and involved. People can be amazingly creative with their excuses and justifications for 'bending' the rules 'just a little bit'.

If there are local zoning laws that will back up the limits you want, you stand a better chance of pre-selecting renters without causing a conflict ... make sure that words to the effect of "zoning laws allow a maximum of n horses" is in the rental property description people see.

And I would also add that 9 stalls will not necessarily solve the problem of too many horses .... I have a friend who rented a place with 2 stalls and promptly made unauthorized changes to accommodate 5 horses .... like I said, creative excuses.


Aug. 13, 2010, 05:05 PM
A written contract is a Very Good Thing.

So is a significant security deposit.

And a local manager to look after the place while you're gone.

The contract should lay out the rules of the game. Beware of being too restrictive (why would somebody rent a 9 stall barn and accept that they could only put one or two horses in it?). But making the Magic Number 9 would be very reasonable. But requiring that they be responsible for damage to the facility (beyond normal wear and tear) is quite fair.

At minimimum you want first month, last month, and security deposit up front. Frankly in much of the horse world people can't do this. If they can't then it's, "thank you for your interest." If they are that capital limited they will be problems. Voice of experience, here, don't you know. :(

Who will be your local agent? How much will you pay them (10% of the rent would not be unfair). Again, based upon personal experience with general rental property, a professional manager (like a realty management company) can be a real advantage (particularly if you're overseas). Some farm/equine experience would be a plus. Call your Extension Agent and see if they can give you a "steer."

You can have a good experience and you can be about to enter a nightmare. You can't control every aspect of this but you can improve your odds by thoughtful preparation.

Good luck in what you do.


Aug. 13, 2010, 05:08 PM
Been there, done that - never again.

Aug. 13, 2010, 05:17 PM
As I've posted before, I have a 5-acre property that I've been leasing out for 8 years now. I have not had many problems, but I screen carefully and have a 14-page lease that covers what they can and cannot do to property, what they are responsible for, etc. It also includes the equine liability disclaimer for my state. And I also have signs posted in several places around the property.

I would not rent to a rescue - too many people coming and going, and borderline 'business' which is a no-no. I do not allow boarding, lessons, etc. Only tenant's own personal horses, I put a limit on horses AND I live 3 miles away and drive by the place on the way to and from different places on a regular basis.

Being a long distance tenant is different - and more difficult - and I would definitely use a management company to keep an eye on things.

BUT it can work out. Yes, I've had people move out and break their lease - but both of them lost their jobs - not much you can do about that, and they'd been great tenants for 3 years. No one has trashed the place, which is what I fear far more than losing some rent.

Aug. 13, 2010, 06:05 PM
Am I being paranoid or sensible?
Both. You might luck out and find the perfect tenants. But it is far more likely that things will not go as hoped.

14 page rental agreement- that sounds about right.
Local rental agent who checks up regularly- and you pay them- and 10% of the rent is about the cheapest you'd find here- many rental agents are charging 1/3 of the rent- but then, they take care of everything from finding tenants to arranging for repairs if you are not there.

I'd be tempted to rent the house only and make the horsey part of the property out of bounds and lay fallow until you are back.

Aug. 13, 2010, 11:08 PM
I would worry about the legal liability, and also about the potential for other deceptions since they didn't mention extra horses. I don't know the people involved but I would worry about any relationship based on deception, and leaving out information that could impact your decision to rent to them is certainly deceptive. I don't trust the potential renters because they omitted facts they show they don't want to follow your rules before they even move in. And what makes you think they will stop at six horses just because that's the barn capacity? I would find another renter, and I would also make sure anyone who lives near, or any good sources of information (including the sheriff's office) have your contact information in case anything happens on your property you should know about. Also, ask your insurance agent about insurance for a renter with only their own animals vs. a commercial use like a rescue or other business operation on your property. Don't rely on the management agent or whoever will administer the rental process to keep you informed about the real situation. Where I used to live I would gladly have kept the owners of several neighboring rental houses informed about major problems, or huge numbers of people moving into their properties if I would have had the owner's contact information-unfortunately I didn't even know they were rented until after several incidents the owners would probably have wanted to know about.

Aug. 13, 2010, 11:50 PM
Well, if they seem like nice people, with good jobs, they're probably (I say probably) not psychotic hoarders, and I would be okay with it. Maybe they really are nice, intelligent, conscientious, competent people who would like to help out a rescue organization.

If their own horses are well-kept, they may understand about not overloading pastures. If you have four acres, say three of it in pasture, and they want to bring 6 horses, that's alot on three acres, though, so I'd put something into the contract about them maintaining the pastures, etc.

I guess it's just that your spouse has a job, and your prospective tenants have good jobs, and they seem like a nice couple; this is not a common convergence of good news, in this economy. I'd be thankful and go ahead -- and just have some sort of maintenance/damage thing in the contract.

Aug. 13, 2010, 11:51 PM
Nail the gate shut then RUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!! For all the previous reasons. Been there, done it, will NEVER do it again. Find someone who wants to rent the house ONLY and pay or make a deduction for mowing the pastures and sweeping cob webs. The farm will be in better shape if it is empty!! BIG red flag with a rescue and conflicting horse population!!

Aug. 14, 2010, 02:12 AM
Horses can destroy a place faster than you can keep propping it up and it costs more than their rent would be worth with chewed fences, ruined pastures, et al.
M a y b e - the house only.

Aug. 14, 2010, 08:45 AM
Tennants can do massive destruction. Tennants can add significant value. All depends on the tennant.

But leaving a place lie fallow for two years can also lead to big problems.

At the end of the day the OP is going to take a risk leaving a place for two years. Which is the better risk?


Aug. 14, 2010, 09:15 AM
I wouldn't rent to these people. They have already avoided telling you about the 'rescue' aspect of their plans, and who knows what else they would do on your property without your knowledge. I would make sure all neighbors or service people have your contact information in case something happens that you should know about. I have lived in an area that was heavy with rental properties and there were a couple of occasions that I think the owners would have done something about that the rental management company totally ignored (including a so-called dog rescue that was totally illegal to operate in the neighborhood and the management people did nothing, and it costs the owners big time in damages). If people lie to me once (or omit to tell me the truth) I don't take it well, and I don't trust them to tell me the truth in the future. In a worse case scenario you could look on tv and see your property as the latest animal abuse/hoarding case, or they could get you sued if they start running a boarding or lesson operation and some gets injured. It would be very good if you could have a person with extensive knowledge of horses and farm management keep an eye on the place too.

Moderator 1
Aug. 14, 2010, 09:56 AM
We merged your two threads here in Around the Farm, where you'd gotten more response. :)

Mod 1

Aug. 14, 2010, 10:49 AM
Well, if they seem like nice people, with good jobs, they're probably (I say probably) not psychotic hoarders, and I would be okay with it. Maybe they really are nice, intelligent, conscientious, competent people who would like to help out a rescue organization.

I once knew a woman; intelligent, wealthy, well spoken, on the boards of various organizations. She ran a rescue. Her name was Nancy Mackall. She ran the Polo Pony Retirement Foundation. Twenty dead horses and ten starving horses later, everyone realizes that Nancy Mackall was not as she appeared. Be very careful. Hoarders come in all disguises and seem to be particularly attracted to "rescue" work.

Not being truthful at the beginning would be a huge red flag to me.

Meredith Clark
Aug. 14, 2010, 02:42 PM
As a rent-ee (is that a word??) I've learned a lot about what makes a good tennant/landlord relationship.

* Make sure there is a contract that explains EVERYTHING
-how many horses can be on the farm
-what activities can take place on the farm
-what is expected as far as farm managment (when the fields need to be re-seeded, how the fence needs to be repaird, water issues, electric, etc).
-What constitutes "well kept" (how often the fields need to be mowed/weedwacked, fences painted, manaure taken away)

The last point is VERY important so you don't come home and the farm is a mess, OR neighbors complain.

The biggest issues that have come up between me and my landlord came from lack of communcation. Simple things like him saying "make sure you weed wack around the fence" which ACTUALLY means "you need to weed wack every 3 weeks or I will flip my shit!"

There was also an issue when the well pump broke. In the contract he was responsible for providing water, but the issue was that; there was water but if I wanted it I would have to bucket it out of a well unless I paid for the pump to be replaced :rolleyes: Thankfully we reached an agreement on that one!

I feel bad saying this but i'd be careful about a rescue. I used to rent a farm in So. Maryland and the people before me ran the place into the ground with rescue horses (not that it was the horse's fault.. just bad managment). The landlord was a bit... off.. and me and the girl who was renting with me put a LOT of money into the farm (including reseeding) only to have to leave b/c the problems with him and other issues outweighted staying.

Oh! One other thing. I've had major issues with the other tennant where I rent now. I'm not really sure how to aviod those things with a contract, and I'm sure my situation is far beyond what normal people deal with but at the moment we're having an issue with my right to ride my horse in my own field...

Aug. 14, 2010, 04:06 PM
When you help a rescue in any form, especially today, where there are unwanted horses around every corner and under every rock, you have to learn to say NO MORE ROOM AT THE INN.:no:
Even if that "only this one more horse" is on it's last legs, or on it's way to a can of dog food.:(

Do you trust those people to be smart enough to not be snowed under, or not be the collectors that can't stop, have to "save" this one more and one more and one more?:rolleyes:

I think that, once they already have lied to you about how many horses they expect to have there, why even keep talking about them?:confused:

You are better off with good tenants than empty, but much better off empty than with questionable tenants, especially with you out of the picture.:eek:

Aug. 14, 2010, 04:09 PM
I have to underscore what catonalap and meredith clark posted. Both gave very good and specific advice.

I probably will be in the same place, wanting to rent my property. I already own property I rent property, just not my own home/farm.

I know of places that rent by the horse. So, if they had two horses, its for example, a $100 per horse or whatever is equivalent to rough board in your area. Or limit it, and if they go over, there is a (double it) cost.

I have ten horses myself, and believe me, I spent an inordinate amount of time ensuring my pastures stay good. I mow, I limit turn out, I am extremely careful in spring and late fall when the rain and mud seems to prevail, and horses can rototill the ground. I would never rent this place to someone else with 10 horses. 4 maximum. I will just lock up one barn, and lock the extra stalls in the other.

I think having someone here to 'oversee' or be a property manager is an excellent idea, and you need to do that.

Are they going to be responsible for mowing? etc List all the chores you do, and determine what they will do vs a property mgt company, or yourselves on vacation back here.

How is manure going to be handled..both stall waste and paddocks?

Again, I know how much time I spend daily, never mind seasonally to keep this place from turning into a mess. For example, in springtime, its hours picking up all the poop and hay from the snow and winter that we couldn't get to. My paddocks in summer are picked daily. My dry lots too. I don't pick pastures, but I do mow.

So, start a list. I know my farm is high maintenance, but I think manure and waste needs to be considered no matter what kind of farm it is.

Good luck. If you spell everything out and think of things and contingencies, you should be ok. It never is easy.

Although I have 10 horses, 8 rescues, I would be very cautious about these people...telling you something, and someone else something else...not a good sign. However, you can protect yourself, by putting a $ figure on it, plus a good eviction policy too.
I allow my tenants to keep x number of pets, over that, I charge. I am a softee and did let them keep the kitten they found without adding on a surplus, but made it clear...no more.

Also, a late fee for rent.

When I do rent...I will be targeting people who are relocating to the area, and have their own horses. I prefer someone like that, who will be only bringing what is theirs, and do not want to jeopardize being homeless and who are looking to buy or build in the area. Or, I will just rent the house, and no horses, and hire someone to mow. Horses, farm animals...we all keep them very different. Like Merdith said, you have to be specific...not just weedwhack but how often its expected, or hire a manure service, and that is part of the rental. I probably will go that route, rather than trust they can give away manure...I can't, and have to pay to have it removed, so they should too.
Once you start typing up your lease agreement, you will be surprised all the things that come to mind. Think of the lease as not only a legal doc, but also a 'how you want things cared for' guideline.
Good luck.