Do you have an Absentee Rural Land Owner Sign on your property? Now I would guess the answer to that is a resounding NO. As it should be… because there is no need to announce to the world that you don’t live anywhere near your land. However, consider that your property may be doing all the talking of that sign anyway.
Absentee Rural Land Ownership is fairly common and many people own land that is fairly far away from their primary residence. It may be difficult for you to monitor the property effectively from a distance so how can you protect your investment?
Steps to Take to Protect your Land
- Schedule Visits
- Photograph the Property
- Record all Activity & Expenses
- Maintain a written Land Management Plan
- Post No Hunting or No Trespassing Signs
Land that is not regularly maintained can invite damage, misuse, trespassers, hunters, loggers, overgrazing, plant diseases and many other undesirable scenarios. Land can certainly take a beating and still recover but there is a limit before restoration becomes nearly impossible.
If you notice that your land has been trespassed on such as finding shotgun shells or open gates or trash then contact law enforcement immediately so they can log the incident. If you are unable to physically visit the land at least 4-6 times a year then consider hiring someone to help you monitor the land. Land agents may offer property management and leasing services along with real estate services and for a small fee (usually just enough to cover the travel costs to the property) you can have someone check on your property and send you photos so you can you keep tabs on your property.
If you do allow people on your land for hunting or fishing or other reasons then make sure that you provide a written permission document to them. That way if they are stopped while they are on the land they can show a Sheriff or officer the document as proof they are allowed to be on your land. Another good precaution is to keep up on the local news in the area of your land. Arson has destroyed hay, pasture and rangeland and abandoned buildings in rural areas and you should know if this is happening in your area so you can keep a lookout and be sure to notify neighbors that nobody should be on your land.
Poaching can sometimes turn into a serious problem because hunters will notice that the property is not being used and may trespass to hunt on your land thinking nobody will ever know. If this is a serious concern for you then consider investing in a trail or wildlife camera to install on your property. Even if you decide not to prosecute which happens more often than not in local situations if it turns out to be high school kids or the local hunter that just needs a warning at least you have proof for law enforcement so they can follow up with the appropriate individuals.
If you are going to be an absentee landowner then protect yourself and your investment by making regular visits to the property and keep up on local news in the area.
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