Written by attorney Lisa Ann Laurene Lerch

Backyard horse boarding in California

Can I board horses on my property to help with the monthly mortgage?

You will need to do a little research before you get going. First, if you live in a HOA (Home Owners Association) you will need to review the CC&Rs to determine if there are any animal restrictions associated with your property. If CC&Rs do not apply to the situation then you should check local city and county ordinances to ensure your horse boarding does not violate any laws.

If you've made it this far and haven't hit any road blocks then the next step would be to check with your homeowner's insurance company to find out if you horse boarding endeavor will be covered. In usual situations, whenever you receive money for horse boarding on your property your homeowner's policy will not cover it as they consider it a business activity. That means anyone who comes onto your property in relation to the boarding of horses is not covered under your homeowner's policy. You will most likely need to obtain a separate policy just as if you were a professional boarding facility. In addition to a general liability policy you will also need a care, custody and control policy. The care, custody and control policy will protect you from liability if a horse becomes injured or dies while in your care. I would urge you to contact an insurance company that specializes in equine insurance to discuss your options.

If you are still interested in boarding horses, your next step is to make sure you have great contracts. At a minimum, you will need a boarding contract, emergency horse care agreement and a liability release. Contracts are necessary because they establish the rules for your relationship with your boarder. Another important thing to remember is that vaguely worded liability releases are often unenforceable. The courts in California have determined that liability releases are valid so long as they are sufficiently worded.

Some things to remember when putting together a boarding contract: 1. Who is involved in the transaction? 2. How many horses are boarding? 3. What are the board and feed charges? 4. Do you require proof of vaccinations? 5. Will you allow farriers/vets onto your property? 6. Do you want the ability to remove the horse from your property if it is a problem? 7. When can the boarder have access to your property? - Unless you want your boarder on your property at 11:00 pm or 5:00 am, you will need to set some rules 8. Can the boarder bring friends, family or animals to your property? 9. What services will you as the boarding facility provide? 10. Is horse owner required to provide insurance? - Horse owner should obtain horse owner's general liability insurance and name you as the additional insured 11. What are the obligations of horse owner to the facility? 12. What are the obligations of the boarding facility to the horse owner? 13. If there is a lawsuit, do you want the ability to recoup any attorney fees expended?

For the emergency horse care agreement, you will want to determine what your responsibilities are or should be in an emergency if the owner is unavailable. 1. Which vet should be called? 2. Is the horse a surgical candidate? 3. How much cost is owner willing to incur without notice? 4. Who should be contacted if the owner is unavailable? 5. Who is responsible for the vet payment? 6. Can a decision be made to euthanize the horse without owner consent? 7. Does the owner have major medical insurance coverage? 8. Is the boarding facility responsible for contacting the owner's insurance company? 9. If there is a lawsuit, do you want the ability to recoup any attorney fees expended?

ALWAYS put it in writing. NEVER rely on an "understanding".

Once you begin boarding horses for a fee, you will become a livestock servicer and if your boarder does not pay, you will have the right to foreclose on their horse. Also, as a boarding facility you will need to post an abandoned animal notice to ensure your ability to legally handle the abandonment of any horse on your property.

If you are running your boarding facility as an individual and not as a corporation or LLC, you should be able to apply any profit from this endeavor towards your monthly mortgage, but I would urge you to have a conversation with an accountant to verify.

Finally, check with your neighbors to make sure they will not be impacted by the additional activity at your property. Happy neighbors are less likely to complain.

Happy boarding!!!

If you have further questions regarding this issue, please feel free to contact our office for further information.

This article is meant to provide general information only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The information in this article is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship between attorney and reader. The contents of this article are not a substitute for seeking the advice of legal counsel.

Copyright 2007. Legal Equestrian, a Professional Law Corporation All rights reserved.

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