Many people sell their horses on an installment basis or lease out their horses to others for a span of months or years. Frequently, these arrangements are mutually beneficial. But problems can, and do, occur – and they're sometimes very serious. Careful advance planning could either eliminate these problems or reduce their severity.

RISKS OF PAYMENT PLANS

A few years ago, this blog explored the law of installment payments in a three-part series, which is available here (part onepart twopart three). Some potential risks and problems are:

  • The buyer might have no interest in paying the seller, and the seller will never again see his horse – or payment.
  • The buyer might be unable to make the monthly payments.
  • Sellers who try to re-claim their horse from the non-paying buyer might find themselves arrested for trespass – and sometimes even theft.
  • Before the horse is paid off, the horse might injure somebody, and the injured person could potentially bring a lawsuit against the seller, even though the seller might be across the country.

RISKS OF LEASING

Leasing arrangements bring numerous risks to the horse owner who agrees to lease out her horse. This blog has, over the years, explored them, as well (Equine Leases – Common Problems and How to Avoid Them). The risks, some of which can also apply to installment sales, include:

  • During the lease, the horse could become injured or ill, and the parties might disagree over who pays the veterinary bills – and for how long.
  • The lessee might neglect the horse.
  • The horse could injure somebody while in the lessee's custody, and that person might sue the lessor (horse owner) and lessee.
  • The lessee might file a lawsuit after falling or becoming injured from the horse.
  • Somebody else might be injured by the horse and sue the lessor and lessee.

ADVANCE PLANNING CHECKLIST

For lessors and installment sale sellers, we offer a short checklist of some ideas to consider:

  • Do you know the buyer or lessee? Have you investigated the person's history and integrity through reliable sources?
  • Are you using a written contract? Is it sufficiently detailed? Does it comply with the laws of the applicable state?
  • Does the transaction call for the installment sale buyer or lessee to sign a liability release (where allowed by law)?
  • If the horse will be handled or ridden by others, such as a trainer or family member of the buyer or lessee, should that person also sign a liability release (where allowed by law)?
  • Does the seller or lessor have proper liability insurance for his or her protection?
  • Should the seller or lessor seek legal advice to make sure that his or her interests are protected?
  • If the horse is insured with a policy of mortality insurance, does the other party know this? Will the installment sale buyer or lessee help the horse owner comply with obligations under the insurance policy (such as immediately notifying the insurer if the horse becomes injured, lame, or ill)? If a claim is made under the policy, does the contract address the issue of who can receive payment?

This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Plan ahead and stay safe!