Pulling a trailer is easy stopping a trailer not necessarily so. As stated trailer brakes may not be required by law for your trailer at the time of original sale. That may not be the case if you purchase used as you "may" be required by a change in your state law to upgrade your trailer to meet the now current trailer safety laws. Sure that's a stretch how this alone may not absolve you of certain responsibilities.
Given the FACT that replacement electric brake equipped backing plates for most trailers can be purchased new for $35-$75 per axle side, installation is an easy as the bracket for mounting the backing plates are built into the axle and a basic electric brake controller can be purchased for $50 new or $10 on CL to control you new electric brakes why not do the prudent safety thing and install electric trailer brakes on your utility trailer particularly IF you tow your utility trailer for more than short local use?
Another issue you should consider is YOUR liability issues in the event of an accident YOU cause with your trailer attached to your vehicle. Lets say the trailer laws in your state of residence/registration requires trailer brakes for the gross GVW rating of the trailer you are pulling/own and you are involved in an at fault accident or maybe you are not at fault. A good investigator is going to look at the trailer to see IF your trailer is in compliance with all safety and registration
requirements as your trailer "could" have been the cause of the accident by being OVERLOADED BY YOU or improperly safety equipped per statute leaving YOU the trailer owner/puller in what could be a BIG potential situation of Liability for the accident.
Rolling down the road nobody knows but you if you have trailer brakes or not on your trailer and that includes the "Constable On Patrol" (COP). One item COPS can see and DO LOOK FOR are "Safety Chains". This particularly true with State Highway Patrol officers. Yes you can and will be pulled over in some jurisdictions for not having safety chains attaching your trailer to the tow vehicle so at a minimum install safety chains. Once pulled over the safety inspection starts and you just might get SHUTDOWN right where you sit!
Another issue to consider is a trailer license
plate. Some states like Tennessee does not require a plate for a private individual who personally owns his/her trailer and uses that trailer ONLY for personal none commercial use with a trailer of specific length or shorter. Travel to another state with no trailer license
plate and there is a great chance you will be pulled over for no license
plate as most states require a license plate on a trailer. Inconvenient? Yes! A crime? No!
For this very reason ALL my trailers have "SEMI" branded Tennessee Trailer License plates as they are pulled all over the country. Buy it once and never again!
Most folks give NO consideration to these issues particularly when they tie on to their small trailer or borrow one from a buddy. Remember, the liability insurance coverage for the damages that trailer can cause to someone else in an accident is covered by the vehicle liability insurance issued on the vehicle PULLING the trailer not the trailer owner's insurance as you cannot buy "On Road" liability insurance for a trailer as by its very nature it is NOT a "Motor Vehicle". Rest assured IF there is an accident causing injury or property damage both the person borrowing the trailer AND the trailer owner will get involved in paying the claim as the injured party will go after both of you.
Might be a good idea to quit loaning your trailer to friends and relatives!!!!