Should a Homeowner Allow Others to Use Property

Question: Should I as a Homeowner Allow Others to Use Property I own? I own a home that sits on about one-and-a-half acres that is very close to a high school. The back part of my plot is a twenty thousand square foot plot that was a fallow cornfield when we moved in. The agricultural science teacher has asked me if I might allow the school to use it as a teaching garden. I know nothing of the legalities and practicalities of proceeding with implementing the idea. The plot has no separate entrance, and I am also worried about liabilities, not to mention my homeowner’s insurance. Do you have any advice for me in regards to this situation?

Monty’s Answer: There is always a risk when allowing others access to your property. There can also be rewards. The idea sounds like a positive way to support the school, the students, and the broader community by contributing the land use.

Meet with the teacher and explain that you are intrigued and that you would like to learn more before you can make a decision. Tell him you have some questions. Once you have met with the teacher, you will have some answers, or additional action steps the school must provide to advance the idea. Here are some questions to ask:

  1. Does the school, or other district schools use other non-school owned property for school projects?
  2. Does the school require some form of agreement between the parties?
  3. Will the school submit a “draft agreement” spelling out the terms and conditions under which they will undertake the responsibility?
  4. Will the school require the school’s insurance carrier to provide a rider to their insurance contract that adds you and your property as a “named insured” on their policy.
  5. Can you provide me with a set of student guidelines the students are expected to follow when they are on the property?

A research assignment

To prepare for your meeting, consider these actions:

  • Check with your insurance agent to learn what additional requirements or insurance they may require and if there is any cost associated with it.
  • Step out into your yard and determine the path you would allow the students to access and exit the garden.
  • Consider circumstances to discuss — hours, supervision, machinery (like a garden tractor) allowed, weekend access, headcount limit, affected neighbors, or other subjects.

Assuming you are still inclined to proceed, run their draft document by your attorney.