Hunting season is in full swing in north central Kansas with pheasant hunters and deer hunters seen regularly visiting the private property of landowners in the area. In this column I want to cover some of the landowner’s responsibility to others while on his or her property.
In Kansas the answer depends upon the type of visitor; those being an invitee, a licensee or social guest, or a trespasser.
The invitee is on the property for the economic benefit of the farmer. These might include someone there to buy or sell goods or services, or an employee for example. The landowner or farmer owes these folks the highest degree of care. Care must be exercised to keep those portions of the property used by invitees in a reasonably safe condition. This includes the duty to discover and warn against dangerous conditions that exist on the property. Keep in mind that this does not excuse the invitee from exercising caution while on other’s property.
The licensee is an individual or group who are privileged to enter or remain upon land due to express or implied consent of the landowner. The licensee, in contrast to the invitee, is on the property generally for their own personal gain, benefit, convenience or pleasure and not for that of the landowner. Examples might be social guests, unsolicited salespersons, members of the owner’s household, and hunters with permission. The degree of care owed these folks is simply to refrain from willfully, recklessly, or maliciously injuring them. The landowner is not required to warn of dangers as the licensee takes the premises as he or she finds them and assumes the risks that are part of the condition of the premises.
Finally, we must look at the responsibility to those termed as trespassers. A trespasser is someone who enters or remains upon land without consent of the person in possession. The duty in this case is the same as for that of the licensee, to refrain from willfully, maliciously or recklessly injuring the trespasser. In other words, the landowner cannot set any sort of “trap” for the trespasser or they can be held liable. The landowner should politely ask the trespasser to leave or call law enforcement for assistance. It is interesting to note that if a landowner or farmer is aware that someone continually trespasses upon their private property and does nothing about it then it becomes the equivalent of an invitee and that degree of care becomes implied. With that in mind it becomes important for farmers to ask repeat trespassers to leave their property or warn them of any possible dangers.
I have used the term landowner or tenant many times in this discussion. I am using the term landowner referring to someone who is the owner and the operator of the property. In the case where land is leased the responsibility and burden of maintaining the property in a safe condition to protect the visitors transfers to the tenant at the time the lease is agreed upon. Furthermore, the landowner is generally not liable for any injury to the tenant.
For more complete information, stop by the local River Valley Extension office and pick put the bulletin entitled “The Farmer’s Responsibility to Others While on His Land.”
Farmers and Landlords, please don’t miss these great upcoming River Valley Extension programs on leasing, marketing and ag profitability.
The Ag Leasing and Excel Workshop will be held December 16 in Clay Center. In this workshop participants will get a general background on leasing concepts and then will get hands-on training with excel spreadsheets and using KSU Lease programs to develop their own leases.
We will hold a Risk Assessed Marketing Workshop January 6 in Belleville. In this workshop producers will get an update on crop insurance and marketing. The day will be capped of with a hands-on case farm exercise to practice marketing techniques.
An Ag Profitability Conference will be held February 17 in Washington. The day will include a morning session Livestock and Meat Market Outlook as well as the Economic Impact of Animal Welfare Issues. In addition there will be a session that takes a look at the possibilities in the next farm bill. The day will cap off with a grain market outlook and a look at the crazy things happening in grain basis over the past year.
For more Extension information and programming, listen to the River Valley Scoop radio programs by going to www.rivervalley.ksu.edu and selecting the River Valley Scoop agent radio program.
K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.