Livestock Liens in Maryland
If you are like most horse owners in the state, you probably use the services of a stable to board your horse and to ensure that he or she receives proper care. If so, it’s important to understand Maryland statutes that pertain to liens on horses.
What is a Lien?
A lien is the right of a party holding property to secure payment for a debt. You have probably heard of someone having the bank put a lien on their house or the Internal Revenue Service putting a lien on their bank account. If you’re new to owning a horse, you may not be aware that a lien can apply in the relationship between you and boarding facility.
Maryland Code of Commercial Law Title 16, Statutory Liens on Personal Property outlines the regulations associated with a Lien on Livestock in Subtitle 4, Section 16-401. This gives the person or company who owns the boarding facility that provides care and custody to a horse or other type of livestock a lien for recovery of any reasonable and associated charges. These may include:
- Custody and boarding
- Veterinary costs
- Other maintenance expenses
People who buy a horse for the first time often feel confused about the legal terminology, particularly as it relates to livestock liens. Before signing any legally binding paperwork, it’s in your best interest to meet with a lawyer experienced in equine or livestock law.
Sale of Livestock and Notice of Sale
Maryland statutes allow the lienholder to sell the livestock at a public sale in certain situations. The current owner of the animal must have unpaid costs associated with its upkeep that has gone 30 or more days overdue. Before doing so, the lienholder must publish a notice of the sale at least once per week for two consecutive weeks in one or more local newspapers. For purposes of the statute, local means the county where the livestock currently resides.
In addition to the newspaper publication requirement, the person or company holding a lien on the animal must send a notice by certified or registered mail to the owner at his or her last known address. This must occur at least 30 days before the proposed sale date. If the lienholder has no record of an address for the owner of the animal, he or she must post notice of the sale on the door of the local county courthouse. The lienholder can also post the notice on a bulletin board of the courthouse as long as it’s in the immediate vicinity of the door.
Application of the Sale Proceeds Involving a Livestock Lien
Upon successful sale of the horse or other type of livestock, the lienholder must first cover the expense of holding the sale with the proceeds. After paying for those expenses, the remaining proceeds go towards settling the amount of the lien claim. Should anything remain after that, the lienholder should forward it to the owner of the animal.
Common Reasons for Disputes Between Livestock Owners and Lienholders
When these two parties get into a legal dispute, it is typically because they didn’t clearly define who was responsible for what. It has been our experience at the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, III LLC that the following can cause considerable legal turmoil between a livestock owner and the owner or manager of a livery or stable:
- Quality of feed and hay
- Condition of stall
- Who is responsible for shoeing and arranging prompt veterinary care
- Whether or when to breed the animal
- Who should train the animal
You Need an Experienced Equine Attorney on Your Side
These disputes can escalate quickly and leave both parties uncertain of where they stand legally. Additionally, these disputes can be avoided altogether by having a clear agreement in place. Our equine law firm represents the interests of owners as well as trainers, racetrack owners, veterinarians, and boarding facility owners. We invite you to contact the Law Office of Matthew S. Evans, III LLC at 410-626-6009 to request a free consultation.