narrow boat
2023-24 case summaries

This page includes summaries of completed investigations and will be updated as cases are completed. 

1298 a complaint about the status of a Home Mooring.

Ms M purchased her boat in situ and was told by the seller she could continue to moor at the location free of charge, as he had since 2009. Ms M accepted this information in good faith and applied for and was granted her boat licence declaring herself as having a Home Mooring. 

Nearly two years later Ms M received a request for payment for the mooring from someone who claimed to be the owner of the mooring. As she was unsure if this was a legitimate request Ms M sought advice from the Trust about whether to make payment to a private bank account with no agreed contract. She was advised against this.

The Trust later confirmed the previous owner had been a business tenant of the Trust’s. As part of the lease agreement, he had exclusivity of the mooring that the boat had occupied for many years. The Trust says the situation came to its attention when the lease for the Dock transferred to the new tenant, who wished to have access to the mooring as it forms part of the agreement with the Trust. He complained to the Trust that he did not have full use of the facilities he was paying for because Ms M’s boat was moored there. The Trust checked its records and as it was already aware the boat did not have the mooring operator’s permission to remain there it contacted Ms M, through its Mooring Awaiting Confirmation process, and asked her to provide evidence of a valid home mooring or to continuously cruise. Ms M was unhappy with this and made her complaint.

The Trust’s definition of a Home Mooring is, ‘a mooring or other place that will be available for the Boat throughout the period of the Licence. We must be satisfied that the Boat can be reasonably and lawfully kept there when not being used for cruising.’ The Trust explained it owns the canal bed and its permission is required for the exclusive right to occupy the water space. As the Dock, which was being used as the Home Mooring forms part of the Business tenancy agreement it is for the Business to agree to allow Ms M to use the mooring, as they had for two years, at no charge. In May 2022, the business operator requested that she remove her boat from the mooring. As Ms M cannot provide evidence that she has an agreement with the business operator to remain moored at the Dock she has been asked to move away. The Trust has refused to accept her licence application as a home mooring.

I was satisfied that Ms M had no valid agreement with the mooring operator to moor at the location. It followed she cannot declare the location as a Home Mooring on her boat licence and therefore must be classified as a continuous cruiser.

Ms M says the Trust did not take into account that her boat was too big to continuously cruise and the engine was not in working order. She asked if the Trust could have tried to understand her situation and advise on realistic solutions. I concluded it is the responsibility of the boat owner to maintain their boat and to ensure it has a valid licence and the responsibility of the Trust to enforce the regulations.

Ms M also complained that the Trust had provided information to the business operator about her licence status. This was based on information in a letter she had received from him which alluded to information provided by the Trust. Ms M says she has contacted the Information Commissioners Office in relation to this and as they are best placed to respond to this, I made no comment. 

The Trust has provided links to its General Terms and conditions for Boat licences and has quoted the relevant legislation in response to the complaint and for the purposes of this investigation. I was satisfied the Trust had acted in line with its policies.

Although I had some sympathy for Ms M, as she acted in good faith based on the information provided to her when she purchased the boat, it transpired that information was incorrect. It seems that the seller of the boat was not completely transparent with her and Ms M did not seek any clarification on the mooring status from the Trust. Had she done so she would have been advised the mooring forms part of a tenancy for the dry dock and it would be a decision for the tenants whether to allow her to use the mooring on a permanent basis. The Trust does have warnings on its website advising that mooring agreements are personal to the individual boat owner and that they are rarely assignable from one boat owner to another. They advise ‘If someone offers you a boat with a mooring, be very sceptical and demand legal evidence they have the right to pass on the  mooring agreement when selling the boat.’

I was satisfied the disputed home mooring was genuinely invalid. Ms M requested that any realistic alternatives to the change of licence be discussed and the termination of her licence be reversed. There are only two alternatives with the long term licence, a valid home mooring or continuously cruising. The Trust confirmed that termination of her licence would only be reversed if she could demonstrate adherence to either option.