Buying a Houseboat? See A Lawyer First or Face That Sinking Feeling!
Buying a houseboat can be just as tricky as purchasing a house and, in both cases, legal advice is absolutely essential so that you can be sure you get what you pay for. In one case exactly on point, two couples paid almost £2 million for luxury houseboats before realising that they had no residential mooring rights.
One couple had sold their home on land in order to buy their vast, 5,000 square foot, houseboat for £1.25 million. On discovering the absence of mooring rights, they had to remove the boat – which was too large to fit under river bridges – to storage and it had since proved impossible to find an alternative berth for her. The other couple agreed to pay £850,000 for their vessel and parted with £550,000 before realising their mistake. It was subsequently repossessed and sold.
The couples launched proceedings against the entrepreneur who built both boats and who owned the marina where it was intended that they would be moored. In upholding their claims, the High Court found that they had relied upon his promises that they would enjoy 125-year residential mooring licences.
The Court noted that the haven that was sold to them had become a legal nightmare and that the effusive and charming entrepreneur had flouted their expectations. He had neither believed, nor had reasonable cause to believe, that residential mooring of the boats would be lawful. In the circumstances, he was ordered to pay damages for misrepresentation. The couples’ awards included full reimbursement of the sums they had paid for the vessels.