How to navigate landlord and tenant law in the equine business world
7 June 2023
Running an equine business in England and Wales comes with its own legal considerations, particularly for landlord and tenant relationships. Whether you’re a stable owner, livery yard operator, or a tenant looking to lease a property for your equine venture, understanding landlord and tenant law is critical. From a litigator’s perspective, if you don’t fully interrogate your landlord/tenant relationship, you may be selling yourself short on negotiating leverage to improve your overall arrangements.
In this article, we highlight some key aspects of this area of law and provide useful insights to help you navigate this landscape with confidence.
Understanding the lease agreement
Before delving into the intricacies of landlord and tenant law, it is essential to understand the lease agreement that governs your equine business tenancy. This document outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parties, including rent, maintenance obligations, termination clauses, and any additional provisions unique to the equine industry. There is also a possibility that, although your lease may say it’s one thing (a licence, for example), it might actually be another (a business lease with statutory protection).
Seek legal advice to ensure your lease protects your interests, aligns with industry-specific requirements and to find out if you have negotiation leverage for the grant of a lease on improved terms.
Repair and maintenance obligations
As a starting point, landlords typically maintain the structure and exterior of the property, but in the lease agreement this responsibility is often passed on to tenants. Additionally, tenants are usually responsible for maintaining the interior and fixtures within the premises.
For equine businesses, it is crucial to clearly define other maintenance responsibilities in the lease agreement, considering factors such as stable repairs, pasture maintenance and fencing upkeep. Covering these matters in the lease will help avoid dilapidations disputes at the end of the tenancy.
Rent and rent review
Rent is a fundamental aspect of any tenancy agreement. In equine businesses, rental arrangements can vary, including fixed rent, rent based on a percentage of revenue, or a combination of both. It is vital to establish clear rent terms and mechanisms for rent reviews to avoid disputes in the future. Understanding market rents and seeking professional valuation and legal advice can help ensure fair and reasonable rent agreements.
Termination and renewal
Tenancy agreements are typically subject to specific provisions for termination and renewal, and the equine industry is no exception. Landlords and tenants should familiarise themselves with these provisions to avoid potential conflicts.
For tenants, be aware of any notice periods required for terminating or renewing the lease and consider negotiating a break clause to allow you to bring the lease to an end if your circumstances change. Landlords should adhere to proper procedures and timelines to avoid complications in terminating or renewing a lease.
Seek early advice if you’re looking to terminate your lease, to ensure you don’t fall foul of any tricky provisions (for example, as to effective service of notices, which is a rich environment for dispute).
Insurance and liability
Equine businesses involve inherent risks, making insurance a crucial aspect of mitigating liabilities. As a tenant, ensure you have comprehensive liability insurance that covers your operations and protects against potential claims from third parties. Landlords should also have adequate insurance to protect their property and limit liability.
Seek advice from insurance professionals with experience in the equine industry to ensure adequate coverage, which will protect you in a dispute.
A clear understanding of landlord and tenant law is essential for equine business owners, landlords and tenants to maintain smooth and successful operations. Understanding lease agreements, repair and maintenance obligations, rent and rent review terms, termination and renewal provisions, and insurance requirements are critical for a sustainable and legally compliant equine business.
Drop us a call or email so that we can ensure your lease agreement addresses industry-specific considerations to protect your interests and minimise the risk of conflict, so you can focus on what you do best: nurturing your equine business and providing top-notch services to your clients.
You can find out more information about our equine team and how we can help you, here.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at June 2023.