The only objective of the Chelsea Reach Boatowners’ Association is for its members to have security of tenure for a fair market rate.
Prior to Andrew and Charlotte Moffat taking ownership of Chelsea Yacht and Boat Company in 2016, boatowners believed they had security of tenure. All members of CRBA understood that their boat could remain at Chelsea Reach for so long as they paid CYBC’s fees, which would always be kept at a fair market rate. The assurances made by the previous directors of the company were sufficient that a healthy sales market evolved in which boats were regularly bought and sold for many hundreds of thousands of pounds more than their ‘off-mooring value’.
This uplift in value of the boats due to their being moored in a desirable location has, for as long as anyone can remember, belonged to the boatowners. While boatowners shared this ‘security value’ with CYBC and the PLA through the fees that they pay, it was protected by the company’s assurances to maintain fees at the market rate and always renew licences.
Andrew and Charlotte Moffat, without consulting boatowners, have taken the view that the ‘security value’ belongs to them. “It’s time the bubble was burst for the boatowners,” said Andrew Moffat to one person looking to buy a boat in 2016, adding that, “if somebody had paid £800,000 to buy a boat then they had paid the wrong people. They should have paid [CYBC] for the cost of the mooring & only £100,000 to the boat owner.”
In July 2016, the Moffats took steps to transfer the ‘security value’ from the boatowners to CYBC by proposing that the cost of a ten-year mooring licence should increase by over 300% to £1,630 per foot. At the same time, they suggested that the ‘fair’ value was actually £5,800 per foot, reinforcing their view that the entirety of each boat’s ‘security value’ belongs to CYBC. When challenged, Andrew Moffat has suggested that boatowners can demand third party determination of licence costs. However, this third party determination only applies to renewals at the end of the first licence term: CYBC has made no commitment to allow it to be applied to subsequent renewals, or to mooring fees for those without fixed-term licences.
Since houseboats are not eligible for mortgages, boatowners have considerable equity invested in their houseboat homes. The transfer of value proposed by the Moffats would, for many boatowners, represent a loss of most of their net worth. Understandably, boatowners are extremely concerned and have joined together to pursue their rights through the Courts.
Public support is an important tool for boatowners and helps to highlight our issues to relevant stakeholders. Please your support by following CRBA on social media or signing the online petition. Thank you!