University of Maryland Extension

Helpful Maryland Law for Stable Owner-Operators

Author: 
Sarah Everhart

Photo by Edwin Remsberg

A useful section of Maryland law allows the owner or operator of a stable or other establishment caring for livestock the ability to recover unpaid costs related to that care without the need to file any action in court, by enforcing a lien in that livestock. 

What is a lien? A lien is a form of security interest granted over an item of property to secure the payment of a debt or performance of some other obligation.  When a horse owner drops a horse off at the stable for care and/or training, without doing anything further or signing any specific contract, he establishes the framework for a livestock lien. This means the stable owner has a lien in the livestock or the right to use the horse to satisfy a debt if left with an unpaid debt arising out of the transaction.  This is similar to a mechanic’s lien which gives the mechanic the right to sell your car if you refuse to pay your bill.

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