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"Ownership Club"

I own a recently completed 57' Narrowboat currently kept on a mooring in West Yorkshire. I work at sea and I am away for extended periods of time. I also have homes in France, Scottish Borders and have of late spent most of my time at my partner's home in Leeds.
I'm concerned that my boat and property in France are becoming cash sinks that I am reluctant to part with as I enjoy short breaks on both. However I don't use either sufficiently to justify continued ownership.
My question for yourselves relates to the Narrowboat but I'd like to apply the principles involved to the French Property too.
Question is - Can I legitimately start a private members club where an annual membership fee would entitle members to a number of weeks access to the boat. The sort of deal I would have in mind would be that members would maintain a level of dry stores on board, clean and either launder bedding and towels before leaving or bring their own. Major maintenance and a breakdown service would be provided by myself on an annual basis. I would imagine I would have to pay a commercial rate for my waterways licence and insurance but would like to limit any liability to members within the rules of the club.
I think that in these days of internet and eMail communications a club of this nature could work well with the right members. I'd like to think that swapping of weeks, and helping each other out with pick-ups, drop-offs and back to back cruises could become commonplace amoung members.
So I guess what I'd like to know is, Can this be done legally, Can you see any pitfalls and would Waterways World carry my advertising?
Look forward to your answer as this appears to be a way in which I can afford to justify keeping a boat which I've spent too much time fitting out and not enough time enjoying - simply by allowing others to enjoy using it!
Ken Wharton

Asked by: Ken Wharton  | 4.07pm, Monday 23 February

WW says:

Essentially, what you're proposing sounds very similar to a small-scale version of the 'timeshare' schemes which have run on the waterways for a number of years. (It looks like you intend to keep full ownership of the boat, therefore it wouldn't be a 'shared ownership' scheme.)
As far as we know, there have never been any challenges to the legality of such schemes per se (customer dissatisfaction seems to be higher, but that appears to be endemic to the wider timeshare industry). So if you think you can offer a good "product" to your prospective members, you should be ok.
We'd expect that British Waterways would insist on a hire licence, as you say. Craft for hire do also have to conform to a higher standard under the Boat Safety Scheme.
You will without doubt need to consult a lawyer before going ahead with the scheme, not least to help you draw up the contract that will be offered to members, but in principle we don't see any problems with the idea.

Richard Fairhurst  | 4.27PM, Monday 23 February

Readers say:

Sounds like it would work OK. Check out your insurance situation. They will probably need to limit cover to a number of "named users" This is certainly the case on our privately-managed shared ownership boat. Good Luck!

Dragonfly  | 3.27PM, Tuesday 24 February

How much would it cost for a share?

Anne  | 1.11AM, Sunday 8 March

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