The size and scope of the Equine industry inevitably leads to some thorny legal issues. Among the most common are stable rights and horse liens. These occurs when a horse owner fails to pay boarding fees for the care of their horse to the stable owner. What happens when a horse owner fails to pay the agreed upon costs?
The answers are found in Florida Statute 713, Part II which outlines the process for declaring a lien on a boarded horse for non-payment of debts for the care and maintenance of the animal under “Miscellaneous Liens.”
For the stable owner, the first step is determining that there was non-payment for labor and materials that were provided in support of boarding the horse. Second, the question is whether privity (meaning a direct relationship) between the horse owner and the stable owner. When privity exists, the lien takes effect from the moment of delivery of service. As soon as the horse eats or is provided veterinary services, the lien is in effect until payment is rendered to the stable owner. There is no requirement that the lien be recorded since it is understood that with privity the horse owner knows that services are being provided for care of their horse.
In circumstances when there is not privity, notice of lien may be mailed to the owner. This notice should contain the following information: 1) the services performed; 2) a property description; 3) lien amount; and 4) contact information. Once the lien is perfected, the stable owner may retain possession of the horse until the lien is paid off.
For the horse owner, once a lien has been perfected, recovery of the horse from the stable is allowed if a bond is posted for the horse. Once the bond is posted, the stable owner must promptly release horse back to the owner or face criminal charges.
Due to the prevalence and long history of Florida’s horse business, the Florida Legislature created a statutory mechanism for relief and recovery for all parties involved in a horse lien dispute. Horse owners and stable owners should consult their legal professional for advice about how to protect their respective rights.
For more information about Florida Liens or Equestrian Law, contact us today at (800) 742-1190.