Attention! The answers
below are based on Dutch law.
Many brokers use a contract that contains a so-called substantial defects/inspections clause. This means that you must first sign the contract and only then have the right to have the boat inspected. If the surveyor finds so-called substantial defects, then a reduction in the purchase price can be agreed, or the seller has the defects repaired at his expense or, if the repair costs are a certain percentage of the purchase price, both parties have the right to terminate the contract.
I would advise against signing such agreements! You cannot negotiate freely about the boat because you are already bound by the contract. Many people think that it is a kind of preliminary sales contract with a kind of technical reservation, but that is not the case.
I always advise to have the ship surveyed beforehand and only then to start negotiating about the conditions of the agreement. In this way you avoid disappointment and unnecessary costs.
Pleasure boats are basically a so-called movable thing and, like a bicycle, can be sold and delivered without any special formal acts to transfer ownership.
Your boat may also be registered in the public registers of the Land Registry, also known as the shipping register. With houseboats this is not unusual to be able to get a mortgage. With such a cadastral registration, the boat has become a so-called registered property. This means that you need a notary to be able to legally own the boat by means of a notarial deed, after which this deed is again registered in the shipping register with the registration of the new owner. The advantage is that it is clear to everyone who the owner of the Vessel is.
However, if you have bought the Vessel without a notarial deed, then the ownership has not been legally transferred and you will have to arrange this because you are not formally the owner. You are indeed the economic owner (after all, you own the boat), but not the legal owner. You can find out who the last registered owner of the boat is by looking at the brand mark and Hommersom Lawyers can advise you on how to formalise the transfer of ownership.
Case law has decided that, when buying second-hand goods, one should not expect such goods to be in showroom condition. This means that an interested buyer is expected to follow up on his so-called duty of investigation and, in addition, that a seller is naturally expected to inform the buyer about many defects.
The discussion often arises about so-called hidden defects, which the seller will say he did not know about and the buyer did not ask about/investigate. On whose account is the defect?
The buyer must take into account that, depending of course on the condition of the vessel such as age and so on, the omission of an independent examination/inspection will work against him. Except when there are such major defects that it can be said that the boat is not compliant, legally said, that the property does not have the qualities that the buyer could expect on the basis of the purchase agreement. What the buyer could expect depends on the nature of the property and the statements that the seller has made about the property.
In such a situation, the seller has to guarantee the absence of defects.
When you are confronted with defects on your boat, you should always first inform the seller (at the latest three months after discovery of the defects) and if you cannot work it out with the seller, you can go to court and for example choose for a claim for damages, in the amount of the repair costs or, when the defect is really serious or can not be repaired, for rescission of the contract and repayment of the purchase price, based on default of the seller.
In such a case, if the debtor is a consumer, you should send a letter summoning him to pay the outstanding invoice and setting a deadline within which the debtor must pay. If the debtor does not pay within this period, you can claim collection costs.
Article 6: 96 paragraph 5/6 of the Dutch Civil Code stipulates that, in your summons letter, you must give the debtor a term of at least 14 days after receipt of the letter to still fulfil the claim, failing which you can claim compensation for collection costs in accordance with the so-called Collection Costs Decree (BIK).
If your debtor does act in the exercise of a profession or business, the debtor already owes collection costs without a reminder from the day on which the ultimate payment deadline has expired. The costs are at least € 40 and then depend on the principal sum.
Based on a commercial relationship, it is of course preferable to send a reminder first!