Keeping a racehorse
I am the owner of a thoroughbred racehorse and he has become so valuable I don’t trust anyone to look after him except me. Can I keep him in the garden of my London home?
Providing you intend to keep the horse on private land and you are the freeholder, then keeping a racehorse at home is legal. The tricky part, however, is doing so in a way that meets the required — and extensive — government codes of practice.
Which say what, exactly?
They require that horses have a suitable environment in which to live, and that they are able to exhibit normal behaviour. If you live in London, space will be your primary concern, as the horse needs to be able to exercise freely. An individual horse requires approximately 1.25 to 2.5 acres of grazing area.
Does the horse need to have a stable?
Simply tethering your horse outside is not a long-term option, as it restricts that animal’s freedom to exercise itself, find food and water, or escape the extremes of hot and cold weather. Not all horses will need a stable or roof over their head, but horses of less hardy breeding, such as thoroughbreds, will require stable accommodation or other shelter to protect them from cold, damp or very hot weather.
What are a stable’s requirements?
Each horse should have sufficient room to lie down, readily rise and turn around in comfort. The British Horse Society’s recommendations for minimum stable size are 3.65 metres x 3.65 metres (3.65 metres x 4.25 metres for large horses). In addition, the roof must be high enough to enable ventilation and allow 2ft to 3ft of space above the ears of the horse in its normal standing position. Planning permission is likely to be required for any permanent construction such as a stable or permanent field shelter.
If the horse is simply being kept on the land and grazing on it, you’re unlikely to need planning permission. However, if you want to ride on the land, planning permission may be required as the local authority will probably consider this a material change of use of the land for recreational purposes.
Justin Neal is a partner and head of real estate at Gordon Dadds, and captain of the law firm’s polo team
I own a property in Shoreditch, east London, which I let out. While the tenant was away for Christmas, a graffiti mural appeared on the side wall. I know nothing about art, but my tenant seems to think the artist is famous. She’s been behaving rather strangely around it. I’m worried she might try to remove it.
You might be right to be suspicious. If the mural turns out to be by the famous graffiti artist Banksy, that would be some Christmas present indeed. Banksy’s artwork has been fetching hundreds of thousands of pounds at auction. In 2014, a Banksy mural removed from the wall of a pub in Brighton, East Sussex, sold in the US for £345,000. The same year a mural called “Art Buff” appeared on the external wall of an amusement arcade during an art festival in Folkestone, Kent. The tenant, Dreamland Leisure, removed the mural and shipped it to New York where it had hoped to auction the mural for about £470,000.
But the wall — and by extension the mural — belongs to the landlord, doesn’t it?
Well, this was one of the issues discussed in the case. The organisers of the art festival took Dreamland to court on the landlord’s behalf, demanding that the mural be returned. Dreamland put forward two arguments: firstly, that the lease contained a covenant obliging it to keep the arcade in good repair and condition (and therefore in removing the graffiti it was only complying with this covenant); and, second, that having removed the mural, ownership had been transferred to them.
Did it work?
No. Although the judge accepted that the presence of graffiti on the wall of the property could trigger the tenant’s repairing obligations under the lease, he said that the chosen method of repair needed to be equivalent to other methods available. As simply painting over the mural would have been a much cheaper and less invasive method of repair, removing the mural was not compliant with the lease. The judge also reminded Dreamland that, once removed, the default position in law was that the mural still remained the property of the landlord and it was for the tenant to prove otherwise. The judge didn’t think they had, so the mural had to be returned.
I imagine it would be a lot of effort to remove anyway.
You could say that. The Sincura Group, which removed Banksy’s mural “Girl with Red Balloon”, revealed that the entire process lasted a month, cost tens of thousands of pounds and involved round-the-clock security, a diamond chainsaw and — for reasons unknown — a Picasso expert.
Alexandra Cooke is an associate at international law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
The legal issues discussed in this column refer to England and Wales and are for illustrative purposes only and should not be considered legal advice
Photographs: AFP; Kathy deWitt/Alamy
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