Letting to horse owner dilemma

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    Letting to horse owner dilemma

    Hi, id be so grateful for advice in a stressful situation:
    We rented out the 2 halves of our land to 2 horse owners. £200/month each, written contract, grass livery. One moved on, so we were going to relet her half ...but the other lady offered to pay an extra £80 for the whole lot, which she paid regularly....
    That is until my husband had a big stroke and brain damage and can no longer speak or deal with these matters. She then took advantage and got very behind in rent and now owes over £1000. She kept dropping further behind and ive been trying to take on all this (my husband used to do it all). She has also moved in her chickens, caravan, kids toys, heaps of junk etc and threatens to stop paying if my friends visit the field as claims theyre "spooking her horses" even though we used to come regularly ourselves to look after the vineyard there and use our own caravan.
    She now wants the fences repaired as her horses have pushed them down and keep escaping. I told her we will discuss when her rent is up to date. Now she tells me no changes can be made to the first contract of £200 unless in writing (a few years back now)....and that therefore not only does she not owe us, but we owe her!! I dont know if a second contract exists, i certainly cant find one, my husband doesn't know.
    Ive decided to issue notice, although not told her yet... have told her she needs to tidy up before we proceed forward with fence plans (i dont want a massive bill for clearing her rubbish)....but i wouldn't be surprised if things turn nasty when I do. I guess my main questions are:
    1)how do i issue notice, is there a set format like with property?
    2) whos responsibility is it to repair fences on grass livery, hers or ours?(its not mentioned on the contract)
    3) where should i go for legal advice should i need it?

    Thanks so much, I'd be so grateful for any advice

    Sarah

    #2
    Given the circumstances, if you can afford it, I'd use a solicitor to handle this.
    It's likely to be stressful and take some time.

    Otherwise, you serve notice to quit - if the contract doesn't say anything about it, just give two months notice in writing (including a demand that the site is cleared of everything that wasn't there before and any damage to the fencing etc is made good).
    Assuming the tenant doesn't move, you're then going to go to court to get the property returned to you.

    You can pursue the money you believe you are owed through the small claims court as a separate issue, and there's nothing stopping you doing that now.
    In fact, it might show the tenant that you're serious.

    Her views on the contract are interesting, but, based on what you say, completely wrong.

    As I say, ideally get a solicitor to handle it, but if not, you have some interesting times ahead.
    When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
    Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you....ive asked her to clear up before we discuss it in the hope that will reduce the costs should I decide serve notice. She is mending the fence and telling me to deduct the materials off what she owes. I dont suppose you know who is usually responsible for fence repair? Ill check the repairs and the rubbish clearance before I take the next step, but shes paying a reduced rate for now (what she used to pay for half the land) so at least shes not asking us for money!! The costs of a solicitor ive heard can be massive, so trying to avoid that.

      Comment


        #4
        Ideally the contract would make it clear who's responsible for the fences.
        A lot depends on the nature of the agreement.

        If the agreement is for the lease of a field, there's probably no obligation for it to have any kind of boundary.
        If the agreement is for the lease of a field to keep horses, that might be different.
        When I post, I am expressing an opinion - feel free to disagree, I have been wrong before.
        Please don't act on my suggestions without checking with a grown-up (ideally some kind of expert).

        Comment


          #5
          The BHS have a legal helpline which should be able to answer your questions but you have to be a member. If you use a solicitor it might be worth using an equine/agricultural specialist.
          Repair of fencing is usually mentioned in the contract. As it doesn't make her responsible I think it's probably you. It varies between yards, many will do general repairs and maintenance but if there's a particular vandal the owner may be charged. I did all our land management and repairs but a slightly different situation as there were multiple owners. It would easier to charge if your fencing is new and well maintained than if it's old and easier to break. Electric fencing is useful to stop them pushing on the fence. Presumably the contract allows for horses only? So you could start by making her remove the caravan and chickens.
          Given the way she's treated you it might be better to get her off and worry about the mess afterwards. My neighbour had an effective way to remove someone who didn't pay and wouldn't move off. He gave it a double dose of wormer - the horse was removed the following day.

          Comment


            #6
            What does the first contract say about notice? I would not have her repairing anything or tidying up. The priority is to get her off. I would have given notice by now. I agree with using a specialist solicitor to avoid having the worry and stress yourself.
            Unshackled by the chains of idle vanity, A modest manatee, that's me

            Comment


              #7
              Apart from getting a Specialist Solicitor to serve her with a Notice to Quit, I would try and find a firm of Chartered Surveyors who deal with Equestrian Property and ask them to meet at your land with a view as to what they would suggest it would bring in rent if they were to market it for rent. You would also take photographs of the mess and fencing,
              And the day after the visit then have the Notice to Quit served.
              With respect, your mistake (and I am doing the same with some land and stables I rent out now) is not having the place on a proper lease in the first place.
              Having rented out Equestrian Premises for nearly 40 years it alway appears that tenants of land treat rent arrears as a normal thing to do, And putting caravans on is an unwritten right.
              With one property I used a very good solicitor who I had insert in the lease that "There should be nothing placed on the land which would allow for overnight accommodation" (Caravans or Horseboxes) And that at the end of the lease "All refuse (horse muck) should be removed from the fields.
              Unless (in my opinion) your lease does not specify that they are responsible for any fence repairs, then it your responsibility.
              In many areas being able to rent land for your own horses is very scarce. In my area a 7 acre field I was renting with no stables was £100 a week.
              Your tenant will know that your husband has had a stroke and is taking advantage.
              You should also consider (even if you are in the Green Belt) if the land would be suitable for development and many firms of Chartered Town Planners (RTPI) will give Free Advice.
              On one place I rented out (3 acres Green Belt) the tenant wanted to buy it, had it professionally valued, and made an offer, It went up for sale without any possibility of houses being built and was sold for over 3 times what the tenant had offered,
              Land is at a premium.

              Comment


                #8
                Nazmy,

                You have probably already dealt with all of this but just in case not:

                1. it will depend on the agreement but likely a notice to quit which, if the agreement has expired and is periodic and doesnt set out time limits for notices, a reasonable notice is required.
                2. again it depends on the agreement however, if a horse escapes and causes damage the likelihood is that the party suffering the damage may go after you as the landowner if the tenant has no resources.
                3. i don't mind helping you if you need help. I was a partner in the Agricultural and Rural Estates team (of a top ranked law firm for that area) for 8/9 years so have an idea of what to do

                Message me if you need help, Charles

                Comment

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