Faced with an allegation from the State of Illinois, Base Camp Leasing and the American Hunting Lease Association partnered to gain a favorable resolution. Illinois insisted that a real estate license was required by any hunting lease company operating within the state.
Base Camp Leasing President Steve Meng wasn’t surprised when he recently received a cease and desist order from the State of Illinois. Meng’s company (BCL) is a brokerage that serves private landowners by finding and securing hunters willing to pay a fee for the exclusive rights to hunt that property. The practice has long been referred to as “leasing” and is a rapidly growing industry.
In this instance, the State of Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation interpreted the word “lease” literally and alleged that Base Camp Leasing was practicing real estate sales without a proper license.
“We faced a similar allegation from both Kentucky and Michigan several years ago, but for some reason Illinois wasn’t convinced by the arguments that we made in those cases,” added Meng. “In both of the prior situations, we were found to be in complete compliance. I was initially very confident that Illinois would follow suit.”
However, Illinois denied the original position that a hunting lease between a hunter and a private landowner does not constitute tenancy or any property transfer. Consequently, Base Camp’s position was that a real estate license wasn’t required.
Meng stated, “After they disagreed with our prior arguments and pressed the cease and desist order, I decided to seek outside advice, even though I was sure we were right, when politics are involved you can just never be sure of the outcome. We have a bunch of landowners in Illinois that count on the revenue that we generate for them. This would have been a major blow to them as well.”
Base Camp turned to the American Hunting Lease Association for direction and any assistance it could provide. The AHLA is a trade association for hunting lease companies. Described as the voice of the hunting lease industry, the AHLA promotes leasing, hunting safety and provides hunting liability insurance to landowners and private hunt clubs.
“The AHLA was instrumental in our favorable ruling,” Meng added. “They had a template of a new lease agreement already in development when I contacted them. This new agreement (contract) is actually more accurate in many ways and will help us avoid any future complaints from other states.”
Once the State of Illinois was presented with the new contract and its updated verbiage, it quickly came to the same conclusion as Michigan and Kentucky. A real estate license is not needed to broker or license hunting rights.
“We have converted entirely to the new contract and I would recommend other companies do the same. The new language is much cleaner and more descriptive and will keep us from having to defend ourselves in the future,” added Meng. “We are still proud to be referred to as the ‘leasing’ industry, the only changes are in the formal contract.”
The American Hunting Lease Association is described as the voice of the hunting lease industry. Its mission is to promote and represent the hunting lease industry in its pursuit to provide hunters and landowners with safe, ethical lease arrangements that benefit and protect all parties. They are committed to uniting the hunting lease industry and securing the industry’s role in an ever evolving hunting heritage.
Photo Courtesy of – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources