When you rent a boat, are the rules the same as on land?

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Question:

My wife and I have been living aboard a friend's yacht in a public harbor in California for the past eight months. We pay rent and electricity monthly. We have no written agreement.

Would this type of rental be governed by the same landlord-tenant laws as residential property? Also, are there any regulations that the harbor must follow before it can allow long-term live aboards? I really appreciate your help as I have not been able to find answers or info anywhere.

Answer:

California does indeed have a special law that governs tenancies in "floating home" marinas. It's called the Floating Home Residency Law and it's in the California Civil Code beginning at Section 800. Many other states have special rules for floating tenancies, too.

You can read the California statute by going to Nolo's website. On the bottom of the home page, click Site Map, then choose the State Statutes link. From there, it's a cinch to find California's Civil Code, where you'll enter "800." Have a look and scroll down to the appropriate sections.

If you go to a law library and want a short, clear, plain English explanation of the law, ask the reference librarian for a copy of California Practice Guide: Landlord-Tenant, by The Rutter Group, and go to Volume II, Section 13.

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