Do you want to rent a boat from a private person, or share a boat with someone else? Then it’s helpful to know what boat sharing platforms are out there, how it works and what to look out for. This article will give you some background on where boat sharing comes from, the legal snags that come with it, plus the different boat sharing options with all the pros and cons.
Background on the sharing economy.
For those wondering where all the hype around shared ownership came from: researchers say developments began with digitization. The moment the CD disappeared and music became available everywhere digitally, it was suddenly no longer just yours but everybody’s. Music, books, movies; everything is shared. At the same time, it became possible to sell things to each other via platforms such as Marktplaats and eBay, without the help of a middleman.
From digital to physical sharing.
Just take a picture, put your stuff on the Internet and the whole world sees what you have to offer. Mutual trade exploded and the step from digital to physical sharing was no longer so great. Soon cars, rooms, washing machines, tools and even food were being shared and the sharing economy flourished. Today, sharing has long since ceased to be seen as a trend and is a promising economic development that is showing impressive growth rates.
Boat sharing: research.
But are boats being shared? A 2014 survey by water sports magazine Waterkampioen among nearly 1900 water sports enthusiasts yielded interesting results. Although the sharing economy was still in its infancy, there appeared to be interest in sharing boats. Of the Dutch boat owners, 3% were interested in renting their boat and another 6% were interested in sharing their boat with others. Beyond that, another 2% thought about other options, such as sharing the boat with children or other family.
Boat sharing: numbers.
But most owners (89%) did not want to rent out or share their boat. The main reason is that they use the boat a lot themselves (33%), followed by fear of damage (25%), because they don’t need the money (20%) and because they are afraid of a dirty boat on delivery (9%). So even though research shows that boats are idle for the vast majority of the season, the biggest obstacle remains the availability of a shared boat during days off, weekends and vacations.
Boat sharing today.
At the moment, the sharing economy is still in its infancy in some ways, and certainly boat sharing is not yet something that a large group of boat owners is engaged in. Still, shared boat ownership is something to consider, just think about the cost of having a boat. Or what about boat owners who would rather share maintenance than always have to do everything themselves? And so there are other types of people who would like to be boat owners for a few months at a time, but want to rent out their boat the rest of the year.
Boat sharing options.
There are all kinds of ways to share a boat. In the past you could only buy or rent a boat, but now you can buy a boat and rent it out while you are not using it (buy & charter). You can pay for fractional ownership of a new boat with several people, sublet your own boat or let others buy a share in your boat (‘shared boat ownership’). Or, of course, you can rent or lease a boat professionally (‘professional rental’), which if you look at it properly is also a form of shared boat ownership. It may create confusion, but the beauty of this mishmash of ownership forms is that there is a solution for every budget!
Renting a boat from a private individual.
The question is whether it is always wise to rent from a private individual. For example, does that person have the right papers? And can this person really let go of the boat when you sail away with it, or is there a lot of red tape involved? And also important: how do you know if the boat of a private owner is safe? For many people, wanting to rent from a private person is primarily a money issue, as it is often cheaper than renting from a professional boat rental company. But whether that outweighs the disadvantages remains to be seen.
Tip: in any case, make sure you know exactly what the insurance and seaworthiness of the boat is when you rent from a private person.
Boat sharing: legal tips (see below).
There are a few important snags with boat sharing. Water sports lawyer Frits Hommersom provides legal information and tips.
Acting like a “good family man”.
“With shared boat ownership, the owners typically use the boat at different times. Unfortunately, in practice, not everyone has the same moral integrity when it comes to using that vessel. ‘Acting as a good family man’ is what it is called. It is of course very annoying to find out that your predecessor did not replace a broken line, did not refill the water tanks, or for convenience did not report a damage. That is why it is essential to make good agreements on the use of the ship. This applies, by the way, not only to the ship itself, but of course also to damage caused with the ship to third parties.”
Responsibility boat owner.
“Collision law provides that the obligation to pay compensation arises in the event of ‘fault of the ship’. In other words, even if the owner of the vessel was not at the helm at the time of damage, the liability lies (in practice) with the owner. Thus, a lessor/owner of a pleasure craft can be held liable for damage that the lessee causes with the boat to the boat of another.”
“So realize that as a co-owner you are liable for damage to third parties in the event of a collision, even if you yourself are not at the helm as skipper. The co-owners are each jointly and severally liable towards the injured party.
Recklessness of the skipper.
“This is different, however, if a certain damage is not covered under the insurance policy because, for example, the collision involved intent or recklessness on the part of the skipper. In that case, the owner himself bears the cost of the damage and, in the case of several owners, there is a so-called joint and several liability of all owners (in principle, each for an equal share).”
Liability as a co-owner.
“This means in practice that all co-owners are liable for the damage of an injured party. It can therefore be the case that, as a co-owner, you have had neither part nor share in a certain damage, but you are still jointly and severally (co-)liable to the other party, and can even be held individually liable for the whole.”
“Watch out! So even if you have made mutual agreements as owners about your share in a liability (this is called ‘internal duty to bear’) – for example, based on the degree of responsibility for the occurrence of the damage, or based on the percentage that you are co-owner – the plaintiff may still choose to claim the full amount from one (or more) owners.”
Share of ownership.
“If one of the owners has paid the damage in full, then he can collect the portion that is not for his account from his co-owners. In legal jargon we call this a ‘recourse claim’. This can be done, for example, based on the mutual agreement that the person who caused the damage must fully pay for it, and thus compensate/indemnify the other owners for the damage he caused. Another basis for the division of the damage between the co-owners can be based on each one’s share in the property. Suppose four people are all 25% owners, then each must also contribute 25% of the damages.”
“The intention of the legislator in the recourse claim was that in this way the injured party remains outside the mutual agreements of the owners, and can recover his claim from each owner without regard to the person. Legally speaking: ‘each owner is jointly and severally liable for the whole’. However, when one of the owners is unable to pay in turn the damage to the one who has been sued, it is sour for the one who paid everything, and the mutual relations will then undoubtedly have deteriorated.”
Forms of boat sharing.
There are various ways of boat sharing, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. We list the main considerations.
Shared boat ownership.
Platforms that are truly focused on supporting mutual boat sharing are few and far between (or do not yet function properly). The platforms that do exist facilitate the subletting of your boat, but the boat will always remain the property of the person who already owned it. Internationally, there are some examples of ‘real’ boat sharing platforms:
Advantages: No longer solely responsible for the boat yourself; At less cost still (part) owner of a boat.
Disadvantages: Insurance issues in case of damage and the like are more complicated; Limited availability of the boat.
Just as you can rent out living space via Airbnb, this involves renting out your own vessel to third parties. Often for short-term rentals, and they are usually charged in daily rates.
Advantages: Good income possible; Platform takes care of administrative processing.
Disadvantages: Unknown (inexperienced?) users, so more risk of damage; Insurance issues etc. are often at your own expense.
Several owners of a boat that remains under the management of a company, which also takes care of maintenance and the like. Usually involves a subscription model where everyone is entitled to a certain amount of use.
Advantages: Can be cheaper than ownership; No worries about maintenance, storage, etc.
Disadvantages: Boat remains owned by the company; Availability has limitations.
Buy & Charter.
A hybrid solution where you buy a new boat, which goes into charter for the time you are not using it. Part of the income from the rental goes to the umbrella company. A well-known construction in winter sports.
Advantages: Provides specific financial benefits; Ship is widely available for vacations, etc.
Disadvantages: Ship is used by strangers; Can generally only be done with new boats.
This looks like a form of renting, but the difference is that it is a rental form at cost and the maintenance must be done collectively.
Advantages: Cheaply use different boats; Costs are low.
Disadvantages: No ownership; Limitations in use.
If you look at it closely, ordinary rentals are not very different from renting from or to an individual. Both individuals and businesses often rent through the same platforms. The big difference is usually in the price on the one hand, and the professionalism of the landlord on the other.
Advantages: Professionalism of the landlord; Insurance usually in order; Risks can often be bought off.
Disadvantages: Can be more expensive than private rentals; No ownership.
The online article can be found at: https://vakantiesophetwater.nl/verhalen/boot-huren-particulier.