C&RT introduces new letting licence – for boats with moorings

June 2017 - In the middle of a major review of its licensing system C&RT is introducing a new licence in response to widespread criticism about the lack on control over boats rented out as homes – Peter Underwood takes a look.

The Canal & River Trust's new 'letting licence' is designed, it says, to 'ensure the safety of the increasing number of people living on rented boats'.

The organisation claims it is responding to the 'numbers of boats for rent in London and further afield as people try to find alternatives to rising housing costs'.

C&RT acknowledges that a market has sprung up with websites regularly featuring boats for rent, while anecdotal evidence from boaters shows that it’s becoming more common.

However the licence – which matches one paid by hire boat firms in almost all particulars and has the commercial boat hirers' stamp of approval – doesn't seem to deal with the issue of continuously cruising boats being rented out as homes.

The announcement has been met with a degree of cycicism amongst those who have an intimate knowledge of the London boat renting business. One told the Floater: “I know of substantial businesses based on renting out old and sometimes unsafe boats to newcomers in London.

“These people won't be able to find residential moorings – they simply don't exist in London at anything other than an extortionate price – so the whole business will go underground.

“The people I know in the business are already doing that by various means. Some will simply make the tenant a part-owner and load the responsibility onto them, others will threaten desperate tenants to prevent them approaching C&RT.”

Matthew Symonds, boating strategy and engagement manager at Canal & River Trust, explains: “Living afloat can be a great lifestyle choice but too often there are frightening accidents, from carbon monoxide poisoning to fires and boats sinking. Boat owners may not be aware that they have greater responsibilities to tenants than they would if they were using the boat themselves, and it’s vital that those renting boats are protected by more rigorous standards to ensure they are safe.”

From 12 June 2017 boat owners will be able to apply for a Static Letting Licence for static boats which will cover all types of boat rental, including long-term renting, Airbnb-style short breaks, and overnight stays.

However, the boat owner will need to have a permanent mooring and C&RT disingenously says owners 'should talk to their local planning authority to see if planning permission is needed'. The price will be the same as for the current Self-Drive Holiday Hire licence.

The Static Letting Licence has more rigorous requirements to make sure that both the boat is safe and that potential renters are fully briefed before spending a night on board. Boat owners will be required to have: proof of adequate insurance; a Non-Private Boat Safety Scheme Certificate; a detailed handover document including emergency procedures and contact numbers; a Landlord Gas Safety Certificate; and written permission from their mooring provider.

In an attempt to deal with Ccing boats being rented out – a common feature on London's waterways C&RT says it will be introducing a new process for dealing with boat owners who may be breaching the terms of their licence by renting out their boat.

The Trust says that if a boat is suspected of being rented out illicitly it will contact the registered licence holder, as well as hand posting letters onto the boat itself to alert tenants.

The licence holder will be given 28 days to clarify the situation, cease trading if appropriate, or apply for a Static Letting Licence. After this period their licence will be revoked if they continue to rent out their boat.

Matthew Symonds says: “Sadly we’ve heard reports of people running into trouble and this needs to stop. Any boat being rented out needs a Letting Licence that ensures that all the proper requirements have been met and the tenants will be kept safe. We want to spread the word amongst existing and potential landlords and will be getting in touch with those who we think are renting their boat unofficially, asking them to work with us to do it above board.”

In other words get a mooring and get planning permission and get one of the new licences or C&RT will take away your licence. There is to be no attempt to legalise and ensure proper standards for the renting of continuously cruising boats.

You can find out more about renting boats on the Trust’s website:
​(details of Static Letting Licence will be available from Monday 12 June).

Photo: C&RT's web page on renting a boat.

User login