Editorial June 2017


When is shared ownership not shared ownership?

Editor Peter Fellows considers licences for rented, shared and time-share boats

Without referring to particular cases, so as not to prejudice any possible legal proceedings, the issue of rented and shared boats looks likely to be included in the current CRT licence review. Some ‘boat-lords’ are charging a large deposit plus several hundred pounds per month in return for a ‘£1 share in the boat’. This allows them to claim that the boat is in shared ownership and not rented, as reported in the letters page. A shared-ownership boat requires one named person and is subject to the same licence, BSS and insurance requirements as a boat with a single owner. A rented boat requires a different licence, safety certificate and insurance, which are more expensive. It seems to me that these boat-lords are trying to bypass the BSS/licence/insurance requirements by falsely claiming that tenants are shareholders. However, there is currently no agreed CRT definition of ‘shared-ownership boat’ and ‘hire-boat’ and there is a risk that CRT will open a huge can of worms if it is considering making a shared boat licence similar to a hire-boat licence. It may be appropriate for the commercial time-share boat companies, where different families can take a week or two each year (or even for just one year) and there is a regular turnover of shareholders. But I can’t see why this should apply to situations where two or more friends buy a boat together and have a private arrangement to share the costs and the time spent on board, with no-one else involved. There’s also a whole raft of sharing arrangements that fall somewhere between the time-share approach and the couple of friends sharing. I really can’t see how CRT could monitor and police this ‒ or indeed why would it want to make things more complicated, when shared boats seem to work well as they are? The distinction between commercial and non-commercial boat use is reflected in the BSS, as reported by David Fletcher in this issue. Perhaps CRT could take a lead from the BSS and make a similar distinction between shared boats where the management is carried out by a third party and those that are managed jointly by the private owners, so that licences are harmonised with BSS requirements. As I said, if it ain’t broke ….

Elsewhere, Mark Tizard gives an update on the current CRT licensing review, there is an article describing problems faced by continuous cruisers trying to get car insurance, and Alison Tuck recounts the tribulations caused by an unknown water leak on her boat. Finally, I came across a description of how NABO News was produced 20 years ago and compared it to what I do today.

Happy boating this spring.