Barn Leases- Provisions to Keep in Mind

Wellington is starting to awake from its summer slumber. The seasonal residents are securing accommodations for the 2016 Winter Show Series, for both humans and equines who are planning on residing in West Palm during season. Barn lease agreements are very commonplace in Wellington, and it is always a good idea to have a qualified attorney to review your contracts. A barn lease agreement and a boarding agreement are similar but have key differences, and the key parts of a boarding contract will be discussed in a future post.

The following are a few (not comprehensive) provisions which should be found in any barn lease, in addition to the provisions which are found in any typical property lease:

  1. A liability release and waiver is essential. It is important to have language which not only relieves and indemnifies the landlord from injuries to people occurring on the land, but also  relieves the landlord for any responsibility for the horses. The release for human injuries should include the language used in Florida Statute 773.04. The release for horse injuries should also include relief from any responsibility for the health and care of the horses. It is a good idea to attach a release to the barn lease, usually as an Exhibit, which all participants are required to sign.
  2. Release language pertaining to all animals, not just horses. As any equestrian knows, barns are not just homes for horses. Almost every barn will have a loose dog or cat, and less frequently other domestic animals including goats, pigs, chickens, etc. It is a good idea to have release language which holds the tenant responsible for all animals, not just horses. This language is useful in situations where any other animal, such as a dog, bites a human or other animal.
  3. Defined language regarding who is responsible for maintenance. Does the tenant provide maintenance for the ring and fencing? If not, then what happens if the landlord is constantly replacing fencing because a tenant has a horse that cribbs or is otherwise destructive? Who is responsible for dragging the ring? While a landlord may not want to be bothered with the hassle of maintaining the ring, the reality is that most tenants feel the same way and may not maintain the ring during the renal period. Failure to maintain the ring can result in far more headaches than is otherwise experienced by simply dragging on a regular basis.
  4. Holdover tenancy. These provisions are a good idea as well, especially if the landlord has arranged for multiple tenants to lease the barn consecutively. Maybe one tenant wants to lease from December through February, and the next tenant wants to lease from March through May. Perfect scenario for the landlord, right? Well maybe, but this could result in serious issues if the first tenant does not leave by February 28th.
  5. Responsibility for regularly incurring costs. These costs typically include  manure removal and the insect control system,  and utilities, such as water and electricity.
  6. Clinics, haul-ins, and horse shows. Are they permitted? And if so, under what terms.

This list is not exhaustive and there are many terms which are necessary for any lease. Please contact a qualified attorney for a consultation.

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