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Renting out for holidays- worth it?


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Hello! 
We have been thinking about buying a narrow boat for a while now. Our idea is to buy one, and then for a while rent it out as a holiday let because we would need that income to initially pay for the boat. 
Who has done this and is it worth it? We want to live on the boat eventually but our little guy starts school in September so we can’t move closer to the canals just yet. 
we would like to spend around 40-50k on a good boat, have it looked over beforehand and make sure it’s a sound investment. 
 

for anyone that rents a boat out and pays for it monthly (like a mortgage) is it worth it? Do you make any money after coats etc 

 

 

thanks!

 

 

 

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9 minutes ago, vsmith88 said:

Who has done this and is it worth it?

 

To run a hire boat is to bring a world of pain upon yourself. You'll need an expensive hire boat license which in turn, has a whole raft of extra requirements like commercial BSS, home mooring with parking facilities for your customers, commercial insurance, gas safety certificate and no doubt other stuff I've overlooked. Lots of guidance on the CRT site. Also, when your hirers break down miles from anywhere and want the boat fixed NOW not tomorrow, are you geared up to handle that?

 

If you know about all this already then fine, but I don't think anyone here has ever looked into it properly then gone ahead with the project. Do stick around and let us know how it goes if you decide to proceed. 

 

 

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Because of extra licensing, insurance, BSS, and operating premisses costs as required by CaRT and the need to provide 24/7 support for breakdowns etc. the usual advice is that it is not worth it, but buying a sponsor boat in a hire fleet for an agreed number of years where you reserve X weeks for your own use does seem to work, but your budget almost certainly rules that out.

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I would say that with your budget you could think about a boat share, works like timeshare, I think. Though not for profit! Try the search on here.

A boat in your budget is either quite small or quite old, requiring more time and money spent on maintenance.

Maintenance is an unpredictable cost, could easily average out about £700 per annum, something between £300 and £1000, to keep it smart.

Marina or mooring fees are £1200 to £3600, outside London for a full size boat.

Long term, we don't know what will happen to boat pricing, but we do know that every boat needs maintenance, and if you can't DIY, you need to pay someone.

 

 

 

 

Edited by LadyG
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17 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Boats are not like houses. The legal regime that makes renting out houses so advantagous doesn't work with boats.

 

I'm not sure the 'legal regime' for renting out holiday homes is so different from that governing renting out boats. Neither type of customer gets security of tenure, and both can be sued for non payment. 

 

 

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Despite what others on here are saying, the fact remains that there are quite a few boats which are let out like this. 

 

This is a privately owned boat, kept in a marina which is let out and even lets you go cruising on it.  I imagine there are lots of hoops to jump through but also money to be made.  https://www.stratfordboathire.com/

 

The the OP, if I were you I'd be trying to find out from those who've actually done it.  AFAIK, nobody on this forum is in that category, although I think we may have someone who operates a day hire boat.

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10 minutes ago, MtB said:

 

I'm not sure the 'legal regime' for renting out holiday homes is so different from that governing renting out boats. Neither type of customer gets security of tenure, and both can be sued for non payment. 

 

 

Granted. However, the OP is thinking of using the income to pay for it and the buy to let boat mortgage isn't a thing, as far as I know.

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8 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

Despite what others on here are saying, the fact remains that there are quite a few boats which are let out like this. 

 

This is a privately owned boat, kept in a marina which is let out and even lets you go cruising on it.  I imagine there are lots of hoops to jump through but also money to be made.  https://www.stratfordboathire.com/

 

The the OP, if I were you I'd be trying to find out from those who've actually done it.  AFAIK, nobody on this forum is in that category, although I think we may have someone who operates a day hire boat.

I get the impression that the reason no one on the forum posts about hiring their own boat is that they are either doing it under the radar, or, more likely, it's not a viable option.

Some hire boat fleets I have seen are very smart, very obviously cleaned and polished, they are run by a marina so have onshore winter storage, a paint shed and staff available for support. That is what people expect if they hire a boat these days. There are others which are well maintained engine wise, but on the scruffy side, no doubt at the budget end, but very busy!

Edited by LadyG
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1 minute ago, LadyG said:

I get the impression that the reason no one on the forum posts about hiring their own boat is that they are either doing it under the radar, or, more likely, it's not a viable option.

 

 

I think a lot do it under the radar which may be OK for them until either the boat disappears or there is a serous accident that the insurance company won't pay out on. I dread to think what would happen if a hirer died of CO when it was discovered the owner did not have the required Gas Safety Certificate, which is not the BSS gas test.

 

Breakdown support can always be bought in, but it may not be available for a day or so and if covered outside normal job bookings is likely to cost. Even RCR have been known to be unable to attend for many hours because of the number of breakdowns. I would have no idea how to cost this into the projections.

 

If the OP had no idea about what is required they are much better informed now so can start doing some costings to see how it stacks up.

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11 minutes ago, LadyG said:

I get the impression that the reason no one on the forum posts about hiring their own boat is that they are either doing it under the radar, or, more likely, it's not a viable option.

Some hire boat fleets I have seen are very smart, very obviously cleaned and polished, they are run by a marina so have onshore winter storage, a paint shed and staff available for support. That is what people expect if they hire a boat these days. There are others which are well maintained engine wise, but on the scruffy side, no doubt at the budget end, but very busy!

If it's not viable, why do people do it?

 

How do you advertise and rent out a boat "under the radar"?  I can't see you getting much custom.

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1 hour ago, vsmith88 said:

Hello! 
We have been thinking about buying a narrow boat for a while now. Our idea is to buy one, and then for a while rent it out as a holiday let because we would need that income to initially pay for the boat. 
Who has done this and is it worth it? We want to live on the boat eventually but our little guy starts school in September so we can’t move closer to the canals just yet. 
we would like to spend around 40-50k on a good boat, have it looked over beforehand and make sure it’s a sound investment. 
 

for anyone that rents a boat out and pays for it monthly (like a mortgage) is it worth it? Do you make any money after coats etc 

 

 

thanks!

 

 

 

 

I think the bits I've highlighted in bold need to be clarified.

 

It may be that the OP has phrased it wrong but do they mean let it out as a hire boat from a base to cruise around for a week or two or a proper rental?.  Obviously each has their own rules and regulations but I'm more swayed to the latter as "pays for it monthly" seems to suggest they just want to buy it and rent it to someone to live on and pay for it until they're in the position to move onto it permanently.

 

 

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https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/44401822?source_impression_id=p3_1652948117_EIm3Lad01Tu7pSHF

 

Here's someone doing it as a continuous cruiser in a small part of East London.  It's hard to imagine a more awkward arrangement for the owner, and yet he's been doing it for a couple of years or more.  I expect it makes a fair bit of money from customers who are looking for something a bit quirky and different.  The reviews are mostly good.

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5 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

If it's not viable, why do people do it?

 

How do you advertise and rent out a boat "under the radar"?  I can't see you getting much custom.

 

I would have thought social media would be the way seeing how it seems to be able to drive a coach and horses through retail protection.

 

Make the availability known at the pub or workplace, notice in newsagents.

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1 hour ago, vsmith88 said:

Hello! 
We have been thinking about buying a narrow boat for a while now. Our idea is to buy one, and then for a while rent it out as a holiday let because we would need that income to initially pay for the boat. 
Who has done this and is it worth it? We want to live on the boat eventually but our little guy starts school in September so we can’t move closer to the canals just yet. 
we would like to spend around 40-50k on a good boat, have it looked over beforehand and make sure it’s a sound investment. 
 

for anyone that rents a boat out and pays for it monthly (like a mortgage) is it worth it? Do you make any money after coats etc 

 

 

thanks!

 

 

 

 

The most I suspect lots may do is loan to friends/family as long as they cover the cost of fuel used.

 

Beyond that it gets into hiring 'proper' which as others have pointed out brings along a whole raft of requirements.

 

Some insurance companies even ask that you inform them you have loaned the boat out.

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5 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

How do you advertise and rent out a boat "under the radar"?  I can't see you getting much custom.

 

Liveaboard rental usually.  Trying to rent a week at a time without letting anyone know would indeed be difficult.

 

CRT now regularly check Airbnb which certainly used to be a common way of doing it.

 

7 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

If it's not viable, why do people do it?

 

Like many things, doing it legally and properly adds significant costs.  Many that do it under the radar just buy a boat and charge someone £xxx a month without ticking the boxes.

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5 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/44401822?source_impression_id=p3_1652948117_EIm3Lad01Tu7pSHF

 

Here's someone doing it as a continuous cruiser in a small part of East London.  It's hard to imagine a more awkward arrangement for the owner, and yet he's been doing it for a couple of years or more.  I expect it makes a fair bit of money from customers who are looking for something a bit quirky and different.  The reviews are mostly good.

 

I think the first review of that boat shows the problem with letting the boat out. It sounds to me as if the boat had been let out with well discharged batteries from the last hire and the owner had done little to charge them. This hypothesis but seem to fit the review.

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23 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

If it's not viable, why do people do it?

 

How do you advertise and rent out a boat "under the radar"?  I can't see you getting much custom.

It depends on individual circumstances, whether it is viable.  To do the job properly, ie legally adds a whole extra cost, so people who do the maths usually drop the idea, as It is not profitable. 

I did not pick up that OP wanted to rent out full time, I thought they just wanted a few weeks to help them pay for general costs.

Edited by LadyG
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I used to have a colleague that had a long term boat rental in London, he had rented it for a couple of years but I think it was on a permanent mooring and remained static.

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54 minutes ago, doratheexplorer said:

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/44401822?source_impression_id=p3_1652948117_EIm3Lad01Tu7pSHF

 

Here's someone doing it as a continuous cruiser in a small part of East London.  It's hard to imagine a more awkward arrangement for the owner, and yet he's been doing it for a couple of years or more.  I expect it makes a fair bit of money from customers who are looking for something a bit quirky and different.  The reviews are mostly good.

That's a weird one. It is the owners home, but the guest will have it exclusively. The guest cannot move the boat but it has to move every 14 days. The owner will leave a tank full of hot water, but there is no more water heating.

So I assume the owner only lets it out for part of the time, moves the boat every 14 days and in doing so heats a calorifier full of water (and presumably charges the batteries) for the next guest. 

And the owner lives elsewhere whenever the guest is on board.

Do CRT really permit this?

I note several of the reviewers had problems with insufficient/no hot water. And one writes "The bathroom doesnt work as usual, so keep that in mind, this could be not very comfortable for some people." Compost bog?

Edited by David Mack
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1 hour ago, doratheexplorer said:

Despite what others on here are saying, the fact remains that there are quite a few boats which are let out like this. 

 

This is a privately owned boat, kept in a marina which is let out and even lets you go cruising on it.  I imagine there are lots of hoops to jump through but also money to be made.  https://www.stratfordboathire.com/

 

The the OP, if I were you I'd be trying to find out from those who've actually done it.  AFAIK, nobody on this forum is in that category, although I think we may have someone who operates a day hire boat.

 

I've met a couple that were out and about on a shiny brand new boat they'd just bought and planned on running as a luxury hire operation. But that was a new boat bought as a business venture by people who clearly had some money to risk on what they hoped would be a nice lifestyle business first and a boat they occasionally used second, and probably kitted out with that in mind.

 

My understanding of the original post is that the OP is looking to buy a >20 year old second hand regular narrowboat on a personal loan or marine mortgage and subsidise the repayments by letting the boat out. This sounds much harder, because letting out boats is a risky seasonal business with a lot of potential for unexpected bills and lost revenue so not really the ideal way of paying off £1000 or so a month.

 

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57 minutes ago, David Mack said:

That's a weird one. It is the owners home, but the guest will have it exclusively. The guest cannot move the boat but it has to move every 14 days. The owner will leave a tank full of hot water, but there is no more water heating.

So I assume the owner only lets it out for part of the time, moves the boat every 14 days and in doing so heats a calorifier full of water (and presumably charges the batteries) for the next guest. 

And the owner lives elsewhere whenever the guest is on board.

Do CRT really permit this?

I note several of the reviewers had problems with insufficient/no hot water. And one writes "The bathroom doesnt work as usual, so keep that in mind, this could be not very comfortable for some people." Compost bog?

I guess you'd have to ask CRT if they permit it.  They either do, or they don't but have failed to do anything about it.  It's highly doubtful they're not aware in such a location after 2 years.  My greater concern would be insurance/liability when something goes wrong.  But I wouldn't just single out this boat, there are plenty of others on AirBNB and elsewhere.

Edited by doratheexplorer
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There used to be a boat on a mooring in Birmingham which had previously been a cruising hotel narrowboat and the owner just operated it as a static hotel offering good value room only accomodation.  That's not much different to the airbnb option except you only got a room, not the whole boat.  I would imagine CRT being reasonably receptive to this sort of idea if the boat is on a commercial mooring in a town or city centre (the sort which trip boats operate from).  Obviously the correct insurance /licence etc would be needed.

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