That boat that sank

Published: Monday, 10 April 2017

BELOW is an article about a narrowboat that sank on the Lee, with the occupiers losing everything, but the story has a twist, as the boat was rented, with the occupiers getting a very poor deal indeed, that however seems common on the London waterways.

 Here is his story, passed on by our contributor Roger Fox.

My first step was boat sitting for a friend for two weeks and chatting to real actual people on the canal in which I met 3 x people renting different boats in my first week. One of which told me about his landlord which had a good reputation and a great website. I made friends with him and he convinced me to rent first before buying in case I didn't like life on the water, as I wanted to buy straight away. I had zero clue there was anything underhand going on!

I signed a contract just like any other tenant, except that this one you had to become a part owner as I was told it was a boat. I paid a deposit and paid a large amount of rent per month—in my mind I thought it's ok as I was going to buy in a few months so it's a temporary stint to learn more about boats and see if I could get through canal life in the winter.

I also thought by paying more I would be getting a good quality boat and excellent service. I took my RYA course and spoke to lots of other boaters, I asked my landlord lots of questions about the boat but I was broken down most of the time. This meant I had minimal water and a full toilet for the first six weeks. I also had a carbon monoxide issue along with my landlord completing electrical rewiring which left me with with an overheated water pump which could have set fire, no electrics and a short circuit which flattened my batteries for a while. My toilet overflowed and flooded the bathroom to. I just chalked it up to experience and 'good learning'.

On my first week on board my rented boat I met another 3 x renters in the boats next to me. In my experience it appears there are a large majority of people on London canals who are living in rented boats. Yes boatloads and renters alike are all over the place.

There are websites online that seem very legitimate. People on the canal are recommending renting. It's only when something goes wrong you realise you have no rights to be re-housed as the 'boatlord' is not really a landlord so tenants rights don't apply and renting is not technically allowed.

It's absolutely awful. You have less rights and more danger (eg: carbon monoxide, poor repair work, flooding, fire, sinking) than living in a rented flat. I don't want the Canal & River Trust to turn a blind eye anymore , there needs to be something done. The fact someone commented above that they want more information on a 'part ownership' scheme and boat rental scheme on a post regarding how I have been made homeless, lost everything and could have died when the boat sank is alarming and shows there is still an interest. The problem will NOT go away. Call us ignorant, stupid, say we should be shunned from the community for renting. My main concern was learning as much as possible about canal boats not studying CRT rental law! I trusted the boat owners website, I trusted other boaters I spoke to.

I'm hoping my honesty and throwing myself into the lions den on here will help get the word out and the CRT will do something now to stop lives being at risk.