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Please help me figure out what to say

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  • Please help me figure out what to say

    I have a small, 2 acre parcel of land in Rhode Island which is surrounded by 18 acres of land owned by someone else, that cannot be developed. I want to use this land for turnout. It is not currently being used for anything (by people). It's open space. About 5 acres of it is overgrown meadow. It used to be a big hay farm. (I know!)

    Since I am brand-spanking new in a small town, I was thinking of writing the landowners a letter to see if they would be interested in letting me use or even lease those meadows for my horse(s). The landowners live a few towns away, but they also run a real estate operation. This means I could either write them a nice letter, or just "pop in" and introduce my charming self and get right to the point.

    What do you all suggest? I would love, love to hear specific examples of wording or strategies you think would be effective.

  • #2
    I would offer to pay first before asking to use it for free. You may get lucky and they will think the "weed-eating" is an even exchange.


    • #3
      Well, to start off, I wouldn't start off by saying that you want to use it for free....say something along the lines of "a lease arrangement." That leaves it very open to interpretation, and won't offend them.

      If you have the resources to, look into what acreage rents for around you, just to prepare yourself to offer/counteroffer anything that they might suggest.

      It's not something to put into the initial letter, but do make sure to mention that some sort of contract to release them from liability can be drawn up.


      • #4
        I would absolutely do it in person. Harder to say no to someone's face. Just introduce yourself, say where you live, and ask if you can rent some of the land.

        I wouldn't get into the fact that they aren't doing anything with it. There is no requirement to do something and it might make them feel cornered if it came out wrong.
        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


        • #5
          Take a box of donuts and do the "hi neighbor" thing. Fresh donuts have been known to grease a wheel or two.


          • #6
            Is it fenced? I'd also add that in addition to paying a fee for use you would be responsible for putting up any necessary fencing and TAKING IT DOWN when you are done. Also, some sort of hold-harmless agreement that if you or your horses are injured it will not be their responsibility - there may be chuck holes, or old wire out there.

            If you've kept your horses at home before you can stress that you understand pasture/field management.

            I would do the letter first, where you can make sure you've outlined some details and then follow up in a few days in person.


            • #7
              In person really is best. Be prepared to pay...at least OFFER to pay. After all, they own the land.

              Even if it's not in use in YOUR eyes, it's still theirs.

              So...tread lightly.

              Good luck!
              A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

              Might be a reason, never an excuse...


              • Original Poster

                Thank you!

                I am more than happy to pay to use the land, and fairly experienced at pasture/land management. I just wasn't sure if a letter or an in-person visit would be best.

                If they want waivers and docs, that's okay, too. May as well do it right if I'm going to do it at all.

                And those donuts are on their way!!


                • #9
                  If they have a real estate office, I'd call for an appointment and see them in person.

                  I have unused farmland that I lease to the neighboring farmer. I love it! It covers most of my taxes, and the land is being improved.
                  Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                  • #10
                    My neighbour across the street actually asked me to use her old hay field to keep it cut short so she can see her porperty lines and walk her dog in it! So for the last 5 years, every summer once the hay is off, I set up my solar electric fence and the guys get out in the hay field until October. I always send her a nice gift basket at the end of the season, and at her request, I spread the manure before the rains come. I used to pick it all up, but she prefers that it fertilize the hay.

                    So I would offer the benefits to your neighbour- keeps the weeds down, you will spread the manure to fertilize the field, and if needed you will supply the fencing ( takes me an afternoon to set up 2 acres of step in posts, a ground and the solar charger.) I wouldn't offer to pay unless the neighbour requests it though.
                    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF


                    • #11
                      Please let us know how this turns out! Sounds like a fab. situation for you, if they'll go for it. Curious...(?) how do you know its not able to be developed? (Sounds odd that folks into real estate/development would be the buyers/owners if it could not be) If I were you, I'd check with the county offices to see/inquire if any rezoning requests or long term plans show any proposals for this property(!) Would be horrible to be 2 acres surrounded by something entirely different than you bargained for. --I know some companies use them for their 'park' areas for the developments surrounding them....soccer fields, etc, etc... (or, is it possible they retain it for hunting?)
                      And, while I know each state/county would have different situations, can anyone share experiences of what is typical in obtaining a tax break if you DO lease it out for farming? (Badly written sentence...sorry)---what I mean is: would a land owner get a tax break for leasing/allowing land use for horse keeping? Or would it specifically have to be agricultural farming?

                      Best of luck! Hope it goes your way.
                      "Indecision may or may not be my problem"
                      --Jimmy Buffett


                      • #12
                        Even though they are not using the land they are still paying taxes on it every year so I wouldn't expect to get it for free. I would show up in person, schmooze them (like the donut idea) and then inquire if the land is for lease and what you want it for. If they give it to you for free after you've outlined the benefits that would be great. But I would go into it expecting to pay at least something.

                        Good luck!


                        • Original Poster

                          More good suggestions!

                          The land around me can't be built upon (or at least it can't be subdivided and developed) because the development rights were sold to the town's Agricultural Commission.

                          There is a special agricultural tax in my town that is used to purchase open space and development rights. We have a lot of active farms here, so the goal is to maintain our farming community either as actively farmed land, or preserved open space. By having the ability to sell the development rights to the Ag Commission, the farmers don't get short-changed. It's kinda cool.


                          • #14
                            I would go and visit them in person.

                            9 years ago when we moved into our newly built farm on 5 acres our neighbors offered their 4 acres of pasture to me for my horses. They did not want to mow it and they loved watching the horses outside their windows. I fenced it and used it for 7 years. They were able to sell it as horse property because it was fenced for livestock. The real estate agent actually asked me to put my horses out when he took pictures for the brochure. They ended up selling it to horse people and the new people paid me for my fencing.
                            RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                            May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                            RIP San Lena Peppy
                            May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010