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PN 7: Appendix D : Is boat part of the dwelling?

The following examples illustrate circumstances where boats used wholly as living accommodation may or may not be regarded as part of the hereditament together with the mooring, and therefore to be included in the Council Tax banding valuation.

Example 1

A couple lives in a purpose-built houseboat comprising a timber-clad building on a pontoon. They pay rent for a mooring on the river bank with its own anchor points, access way, water supply and drainage connections. The houseboat has been moored in that location for several years, although it is moved every 2 or 3 years to carry out maintenance to the pontoon.

The mooring is a separate hereditament because it is occupied exclusively by one boat for a period of more than 12 months. The mooring is also domestic property by virtue of s.66(4) because it is occupied by a boat which is someone's sole or main residence. Although a chattel, the houseboat can be regarded as enjoyed with the land with such permanence as to enhance its value, and should be included in the valuation for banding purposes.

Example 2

A family lives in a barge which has been converted to provide living accommodation. They pay rent to the riparian (‘of river bank’) owner for a mooring on the river bank with its own water supply and sewage connection. During the year, the barge moves away at weekends and holidays of more than 2-4 weeks duration leaving the mooring vacant until its return.

The mooring is a separate hereditament because it is used exclusively by one boat during the year. When the barge is present, the mooring is domestic property by virtue of s.66(4) because it is occupied by a boat which is someone's sole or main residence. When the barge is absent, the mooring is domestic property by virtue of s.66(5) because it appears when next in use the mooring will be domestic. However, the barge is insufficiently permanent to be regarded as part of the hereditament, and the mooring only should be valued to determine the appropriate band.

Example 3

A man lives on a motor cruiser with living accommodation on board. He rents a berth in a marina comprising a finger pontoon at right angles to the bank with water supply and sewage pump-out. The marina operator controls access to the site and reserves a continual right to move the boat from its mooring. When the boat is absent, as it frequently is for weekends and holidays, and even though the boat owner pays rent continuously in order to reserve a berth at the site, the marina operator allows other boats to use the mooring.

Although the mooring is virtually in permanent use and affords self-containment to any boat with living accommodation, the cruiser owner's occupation of the mooring is non-exclusive and insufficiently permanent for him to be liable for Council Tax. The marina operator is in paramount occupation of the mooring for the purposes of his business of running a marina. If the other boats which use the mooring are also someone's sole or main residence, only the mooring would be domestic property and subject to banding. The boat itself would not be included in the valuation.

If the other boats which use the mooring are not someone's sole or main residence or there is no way of knowing what their use would be, the mooring will be non-domestic. If there are two or more such moorings in the marina, all the moorings and land under the control of the marina operator should be treated as one hereditament by virtue of the Multiple Moorings Regulations. The marina operator will be in permanent occupation.

Example 4

A couple live on a narrow boat as their sole or main residence. They pay a mooring fee to the British Waterways Board for one of several moorings along the towing path and a licence fee to be on the canal. They share a water tap with the other boats, but the nearest sewage disposal facility is some distance away. Periodically, they move the boat to dispose of sewage; and every few years the boat is taken into dry dock for essential maintenance. British Waterways Board reserves a continual right to allocate a different mooring, for example, in order to accommodate boats of different length at the site, but in practice the boat returns to the same mooring, which is not used by other boats in its absence It has a postal address and post is delivered direct to the boat.

The mooring is domestic property by virtue of s.66(4) and sufficiently defined as to form a separate hereditament. The boat is moored with a sufficient degree of permanence as to be enjoyed with the mooring and therefore should be regarded as part of the hereditament and be included in the valuation for banding purposes.

If however the separate moorings along the canal bank are not easily identified, either in the agreement with BWB or on the ground, and can vary each time a boat is moored, as the boat always returns to a different position, then the hereditament will comprise of the whole length of moorings along that part of the canal, and the rateable occupier will be the BWB. The boat will not form part of the hereditament because it lacks sufficient permanence to be enjoyed with the land.

If the moorings are solely occupied by boats which are the sole or residence of an individual, then there will be a single Council Tax banding of all the moorings. However, should pleasure boats also use the moorings, the moorings should be treated as a composite hereditament. In many cases a common sense view will need to be taken of the extent of the domestic and non-domestic parts, and regulation 7(1) of the Council Tax (Situation and Valuation of Dwellings) Regulations 1992 requires a band to be ascribed which reflects the value which would reasonably attributed to the domestic use. The distribution between domestic and non domestic use will therefore reflect how the market would view the use of the hereditament, if it were made available with vacant possession. The actual use of the moorings at compilation date, or a notional distribution based on the prevailing pattern of use along moorings in that locality can be adopted.

Where a single composite hereditament is appropriate, the non domestic part in this example will be included in the Central List assessment for BWB, and a single Council Tax band will be entered in the valuation list for the residential moorings.

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