Stableman's lien question for the BO's and legal types.
So today I went to the barn and the BO/trainer whatever was shifting some things around. The conversation turned to items that were not hers and had been left at the barn, I gathered that out of the goodness of her heart she had allowed someone to store this rather largish item - call it something like a couple of jump standards or a tack trunk with some nice enough tack - and she'd lost touch with this someone and now this item was a liability to her, taking up space and in the way.
Does a stableman's lien even cover things like this? Does she have any rights at all without some sort of storage contract? What can she do with this stuff besides put it out of the way and in the rain and ruin it over time? Is she within her rights to donate it or give it away?
All I can think of are those people on those court shows, fighting it out over sofas and boxes of old clothes.
Well, I would certainly hope that she first attempt to contact the person she so graciously allowed to leave her stuff. I have been on her end and its no fun. Its hard enough babysitting my own stuff, let alone someone elses too.
Our horses are not seen as the old and disabled they may have become, but rather as the mighty steeds they once believed themselves to be.
Well before she does anything with it, she needs to at least cover her bases. She needs to try and find an address for this person and send a certified letter saying
"dear soandso, I hope all is well with you. I just wanted to remind you that you still have x,y,and z stored at the barn. We are going to need this space for new boarders, and therefore, I am asking that you move these items by the end of the month. Unfortunately, due to limited space, if these items are not moved by the end of the month, I will have to consider them abandoned and dispose of them. Please contact me with your plans. Thank you, barnowner."
Then she has a paper trail showing she made an effort to return the items. I'd also photograph and document everything that is there, so that should this person go crazy and drag her to court, she can't try to sneak in other items.
My guess is that if the items have been there for more than a year or 2, she doesn't care anymore what happens to them.
Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.
She needs to talk to a lawyer in her state to find out what her rights are and what the process is - this is a very state-specific area of law, including, at least in my state, the time frames and process for dealing with abandoned property. This includes determining whether it is legally abandoned, regardless of what a non-lawyer would think.
This is just one reason why it is a bad idea for BO's to agree to store a lot of extra stuff for people--because you end up being stuck with it and responsible for it. Your BO needs to investigate the law in her state as Saskatoonian recommends and see what her responsibilities are before she can give it away.
For the future she should add a clause to her boarding agreement that deals with what to do with belongings that are left on the property.