Horse boarding stables in California are subject to state, federal and local laws. According to Equine Legal Solutions in California, some common legal issues faced by boarding stables relate to boarding contracts, stable insurance, liability releases and helmet laws. Boarding stables may also be affected by zoning laws and by changes in agricultural laws. Whether you run a large-scale facility or just have a few horses boarded in your backyard, you should be aware of California laws and follow required practices to minimize the legal risks of running a stable.
About Boarding Contracts
Boarding contracts are legally binding in California. However, unlike landlord/tenant agreements, terms set in horse boarding contracts are governed solely by the parties involved, and not by California state law. In other words, as a California stable manager, you can set your own policy for eviction. Equine Legal Solutions suggests you put two clauses for eviction on a boarding contract: one allowing the boarder and stable manager the ability to terminate the relationship for any reason with 30 days notice, and one that allows you to terminate “for cause,” with seven days notice.
According to Equine Legal Solutions, California Civil Code Division 3, Part 4, Title 14, Chapter 6.7, Section 3080, provides "boarding stables with an automatic lien upon horses in their possession for unpaid board." This lien is commonly called an agister's lien. No court filing is needed, and the lien continues as long as the horse is in the stable's possession. It is entirely legal for the facility to use any peaceful method to keep the horse on the property, such as padlocking the stall. If the horse owner attempts to take a horse, the stable can call law enforcement to prevent the horse from leaving the property. Note that the boarding stable cannot sell the horse without a court order. You can obtain a court order from Small Claims court if the value of the horse is less than $7,500; otherwise, contact a lawyer.
Sooner or later, your boarding facility may be asked to assist in the purchase or sale of a horse. Several situations can lead to this. Perhaps, you have a boarder experiencing difficult financial times, or a lesson student looking to purchase a horse, or upgrade horses. California law now requires written documentation for horse sales that includes declaration of commissions. Quarter Horse News says California Business and Professions Code Â§ 19525 requires all horse sale transactions be accompanied by a written bill of sale signed by the buyer, seller and anyone acting as an agent. Any commission paid to an agent, such as a trainer or boarding facility, over $500 must be disclosed in the bill of sale.
Your boarding stable may be subject to specific local laws. These laws may relate to topics, including stall size, acreage requirements and zoning. Before launching a new horse-boarding business, check with your local city hall or county seat to learn the latest local laws affecting horse-boarding stables.