Hiring an attorney to help draw up a hunting lease is highly recommended. Other professionals who can be of great assistance include an accountant, an insurance agent and an agricultural extension agent. The accountant can help the landowner determine if they're turning a profit and advise him or her about declarable income, the insurance agent can help ensure everyone has the proper coverage and the extension agent can provide knowledge on state hunting regulations and lease pricing.
Considerations While Drawing Up Hunting Lease Agreements
Although the concept of a hunting lease is pretty basic, there's a laundry list of considerations to keep in mind when drawing one up. That's because leases are legal documents that serve important purposes. They articulate the expectations of both parties and they serve to protect the interests of both parties. Hunting leases should be very clear so there are no misunderstandings and any problems can be ironed out smoothly.
Among the many important points hunting leases should touch on are the names of all the parties involved, a full description of the land available for hunting, what specific activities -- hunting or otherwise -- are and are not allowed, when the lease begins and ends, what can cause its early termination and how that termination would be handled, how and when payments are made, what the landowner will provide and how the hunter and the landowner plan to communicate.
Other considerations a landowner will want to contemplate when planning a lease include whether to allow subleasing; whether to set a hunting quota, and if so, whether to add a provision for adjusting that quota at a later date; whether hunters can make improvements or alterations to the property and whether they want to be notified when the hunter is onsite. Questions that can be asked are: Does the landowner want to set no-hunting days, specific shooting hours or no-shooting zones? Limit vehicle access or the number of hunters and guests allowed on the property at one time? Restrict the environmental impact the hunter can make on the land or just require him or her to leave everything as he or she originally found it?
Besides the many basic items that need to be deliberated when constructing a lease, landowners will also want to safeguard themselves against liability issues, which is the major reason attorneys and insurance agents can be a huge asset during the process. Beyond soliciting the advice of professionals to get an insurance policy and a solid liability clause included in the lease, there're a couple of other steps landowners can take to protect their interests. For instance, they can ban dangerous equipment, make safety improvements around the property -- documenting them in case an issue ever comes up -- and set up a limited liability corporation in case they're sued. They can also require hunters to show proof of insurance and hunter safety training.
Examples of other important clauses are ones detailing what happens if the land is unintentionally altered or the hunter causes damage to the property, and how potential disputes would be arbitrated.