CYBC charges boatowners three fees:
- an annual market rate Mooring Fee;
- an annual Maintenance Fee (pro-rata share of CYBC’s costs);
- an upfront fee (“Premium”) for a ten or five year fixed-term mooring licence.
The current rates are as follows:
- Mooring Fee (for those without a fixed-term licence): £236 per foot per annum;
- Mooring Fee (for those with a fixed-term licence): £138 per foot per annum;
- Maintenance Fee (2017/18): £79.03 per foot per annum;
- Ten year mooring Licence Fee/Premium (most recent offer): £1,630 per foot.
Example fees for small and large licenced houseboats:
- 46ft boat (approx. 600 to 650 sq ft internal area): £17,481 per annum;
- 86ft boat (approx. 1,200 to 1,600 sq ft internal area): £32,683 per annum.
Why we disagree our fees are undervalued
On its website, the Chelsea Yacht and Boat Company describes the mooring fee for a two-bedroom houseboat as being “approximately £120 per week”. This is, in our view, highly misleading and grossly under-represents the actual cost of mooring a boat at the pier.
The Chelsea Yacht and Boat Company reviews its mooring fees every three years. At the most recent review date, in October 2017, it sought to increase the mooring fee from £138 to £168 per linear foot per year, a 22 per cent increase.
For the smallest boats at the pier, £168 per foot represents £148 per week. However, on top of mooring fees, boatowners pay a maintenance fee that is currently £79.03 per foot per year.
Taking the smallest boats as an example, the total annual service charge (maintenance and mooring) being sought for 2017/18 is £11,363. Comparing against other local moorings’ fees, or even service charges for an equivalent sized 600 square foot Chelsea flat with no more than 10 years’ security of tenure, this looks expensive.
Even then, those fees are for a boat that has also paid for a licence, a licence that the company now says should cost at least £1,630 per foot for ten years and comes with no right to renew. That equates to £75,000 every tenth year for the smallest boats and over £150,000 for the largest.
Some boats at CYBC have not paid for a fixed-term licence but pay a higher annual mooring fee of £236 per linear foot per year as well as the £79.03 per foot per year maintenance charge. For a 46’ boat this means an annual service charge of £14,491, higher than any other comparable residential mooring we are aware of.
Increasing the licence premium
In July 2016, the Chelsea Yacht and Boat Company suggested that the fair value for a ten-year licence to moor at Chelsea Reach is £5,800 per linear foot – a 1,160 per cent increase from the 2015 fee. This would be £500,000 for an 86ft boat, payable every ten years as a lump sum ON TOP of the £21,245 annual fees that the company currently seeks.
At the same time, CYBC purported to offer boatowners a “72% discount” by offering ten year licence renewals for £1,630 per foot. This was, in fact, a 326% increase from the 2015 fee of £500 per foot.
All members of the Chelsea Reach Boatowners’ Association have refused to buy a licence at the new rate, having already endured a 90 per cent increase in their licence fees over the previous ten years (see chart below). They have now asked the High Court to determine if CYBC is even permitted to charge licence premiums on top of annual mooring fees (see legal).
Chart showing how fees have risen in excess of inflation (despite little or no increase in services)
^ CYBC fees 2001-2019 (click to download)
Chart illustrates the extent to which both mooring fees and 10 year licence fees (‘premiums’) have risen in excess of inflation. Until 2015, mooring licence premiums rose in line with local property prices.
External data sources: https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/inflationandpriceindices/datasets/consumerpriceinflation (RPI All Items Index) & http://landregistry.data.gov.uk/app/ukhpi/explore (RBKC)