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Old 07-23-2021, 09:41 AM   #1
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Default Question about property owner renting dock space

I can't seem to find this information on NH DES or Dept of Safety websites. There are lots of people looking for dock rentals. Are there any limits on a property owner renting dock space? Also, are there limits on the number of boats a person can have on their docks? I understand that only property owners are supposed to use their mooring, but if a person wanted to have several boats tied to their dock(s) on an ongoing basis, are there any rules against doing that?

Just curious. I know there are strict rules about dock sizes, etc based on water frontage, with permits required, but beyond that, can't find anything.
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Old 07-23-2021, 01:40 PM   #2
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Since vacation rentals frequently include docks, and since many marinas just rent out dock space, I see no reason an owner can't rent just dock space and I would imagine the dock, itself, would limit the number of craft. Get liability insurance.
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Old 07-23-2021, 01:52 PM   #3
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Itís not just dock space, assuming it includes parking and access to and from the personal dock being rented


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Old 07-23-2021, 02:19 PM   #4
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Default renting dock space

The State is not interested in having individual land owners create their "own" marinas by renting space on their dock(s). When I inquired about having a second mooring, I was told by the State that I needed to have a boat on each mooring registered to me, and that it was not possible to have either of those boats docked at my dock, or on my land. Amount of lakefront footage was also a big factor.
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Old 07-23-2021, 02:40 PM   #5
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Default it's definitely done...

I do know of several elderly neighbors who no longer have boats who let others with a boat use their dock or mooring for the season. I do not know if they are friends/relatives just getting a favor, or complete strangers paying money...none of my business, but people do it.
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Old 07-23-2021, 03:22 PM   #6
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How is renting dock space at a private residence any different than renting an owned dock that is part of an association, club or marina?

Moorings for sure are a no go.
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Old 07-24-2021, 07:18 AM   #7
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Default Check DES website for PDF outlining docks/slips

Thereís a PDF available on the DES website that pretty clearly lays out how available slips work based on the docks you have. Basically if I recall a slip is something like 25í long by 8í wide by 3í deep. So regardless of dock configuration, boats are really only supposed to fit into those areas around the dock.

Based on this, if you had a single 30í long by 6í wide finger dock for example, that would allow for 2 slips (1 on each side) - my understanding is you canít just raft up any number of boats together side by side to fit say 6 boats there (at least not over a period of time, Iím sure for a couple of hours itíd be fine though).
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:03 AM   #8
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How is renting dock space at a private residence any different than renting an owned dock that is part of an association, club or marina?

Moorings for sure are a no go.
The first difference I see between marinas and private homes would be the zoning.

I think there would be a limit. If you have dock space at your house and rented out seasonal slips to several different people, and multiple boats, at some point your operation becomes commercial, not residential. That may create a zoning issue that your town would object to.

Of course, you can do most anything, and violate many regulations, until your neighbor complains to the authorities!
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Old 07-24-2021, 09:56 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by camp guy View Post
The State is not interested in having individual land owners create their "own" marinas by renting space on their dock(s). When I inquired about having a second mooring, I was told by the State that I needed to have a boat on each mooring registered to me, and that it was not possible to have either of those boats docked at my dock, or on my land. Amount of lakefront footage was also a big factor.
If I have a guest, they can't dock their boat at my dock, if it's not registered to me? I think that is not the case.
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Old 07-24-2021, 02:39 PM   #10
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If I have a guest, they can't dock their boat at my dock, if it's not registered to me? I think that is not the case.
There was a lake front family in town that had an L shaped long lot. They had 4 docks. And yes, they would rent them out. They did not have any parking issues.
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Old 07-24-2021, 08:28 PM   #11
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I think that this is simply a matter of "don't ask don't tell" in moderation. There may be zoning issues in some towns as lake shore residential zoning may preclude commercial activities. However the code enforcement officer is not going to come by to see who is using your dock. Unless, of course, the neighbors have reason to file a complaint.

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Old 07-25-2021, 12:05 PM   #12
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I think that this is simply a matter of "don't ask don't tell" in moderation. There may be zoning issues in some towns as lake shore residential zoning may preclude commercial activities. However the code enforcement officer is not going to come by to see who is using your dock. Unless, of course, the neighbors have reason to file a complaint.

Alan
I agree completely. If you rent out a space at your dock, who's to know? Not harming anyone. I would suggest you have a simple agreement signed by the renter that says they must have their boat insured and you are not liable for any damage should it occur.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:28 PM   #13
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I agree completely. If you rent out a space at your dock, who's to know? Not harming anyone. I would suggest you have a simple agreement signed by the renter that says they must have their boat insured and you are not liable for any damage should it occur.
I am not an attorney, but regardless of what they sign, your liability carrier may not cover you if it determines your renting a dock is a commercial activity.

If you have assets to protect, this just may not be worth it.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:34 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by TiltonBB View Post
The first difference I see between marinas and private homes would be the zoning.

I think there would be a limit. If you have dock space at your house and rented out seasonal slips to several different people, and multiple boats, at some point your operation becomes commercial, not residential. That may create a zoning issue that your town would object to.

Of course, you can do most anything, and violate many regulations, until your neighbor complains to the authorities!
If that were the case zoning would prohibit you from renting a house, condo or whatever. I find it really hard to believe that all these associations are zoned commercial. There are private property owners that rent out seasonal parking or barn storage on their property, is that illegal to?

It's an interesting question. I have yet to find anything that says you cannot, unless there is some sort of covenant that says you cannot.
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Old 07-25-2021, 12:49 PM   #15
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I am not an attorney, but regardless of what they sign, your liability carrier may not cover you if it determines your renting a dock is a commercial activity.

If you have assets to protect, this just may not be worth it.
That's a great point, you may have a problem if a liability claim happened, trip and fall on the dock or something similar. However, I think if you contact the insurance agent you'd find that a rental rider is cheap, a few hundred bucks would be my guess. Could be wrong.

And I'm not sure the OP was asking because he really wanted to rent, or was just curious about the law, so sorry if I took this in a different direction.
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Old 07-25-2021, 02:14 PM   #16
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If that were the case zoning would prohibit you from renting a house, condo or whatever. I find it really hard to believe that all these associations are zoned commercial. There are private property owners that rent out seasonal parking or barn storage on their property, is that illegal to?

It's an interesting question. I have yet to find anything that says you cannot, unless there is some sort of covenant that says you cannot.
I don't think renting out one house or one boat dock makes it a commercial operation. I do think you will run into trouble when you rent docks to multiple boat owners or winter store numerous boats on your property. At some point it becomes a business in a residential area.

None of the associations converted to condo ownership without approval from the local Planning Board. They all started out as marinas and the zoning was not an issue because that usage was grandfathered.

I actually had a similar discussion with the Laconia Planning Department when I converted a residential building and multiple boat docks to condo ownership. They claimed it was a change of use and I needed to appear before the Planning Board to ask permission. I maintained it was not. I pointed out it was only a change of ownership, the use would remain exactly the same.

I told them if it was a change of use they would have some authority to regulate it but the city had no authority to regulate how a property was owned. You can own it individually, with partners, in an LLC, in a trust Etc.

I still believe that the city does not have that authority, but sometimes you can't fight city hall.
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Old 07-25-2021, 02:21 PM   #17
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If that were the case zoning would prohibit you from renting a house, condo or whatever. I find it really hard to believe that all these associations are zoned commercial. There are private property owners that rent out seasonal parking or barn storage on their property, is that illegal to?

It's an interesting question. I have yet to find anything that says you cannot, unless there is some sort of covenant that says you cannot.
In some cases it is, they simply don't ask. And for many, they don't claim the income on their taxes.
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Old 07-25-2021, 09:43 PM   #18
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NHDES Wetlands does not have any interest in, or rules pertains to, a homeowner renting their legal slips to another party.
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Old 07-26-2021, 11:01 AM   #19
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That's a great point, you may have a problem if a liability claim happened, trip and fall on the dock or something similar. However, I think if you contact the insurance agent you'd find that a rental rider is cheap, a few hundred bucks would be my guess. Could be wrong.

And I'm not sure the OP was asking because he really wanted to rent, or was just curious about the law, so sorry if I took this in a different direction.

While getting a rider may be a cost of only a few hundred dollars, you may find that that it only covers certain things.... Because of liability reason, rent dock space at your personal dock really doesn't make sense if you ask me.

Its great right up until an accident happens...
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Old 07-26-2021, 12:56 PM   #20
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Its great right up until an accident happens...
C'mon, what could happen around boats and docks?

(slippery dock, cleats to trip on, boat to fall into/out of, motor, propeller, gasoline, lightening strike, massive surf wakes knocking someone out the side of the boat, dog bites, electric cord in the water, ........)
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Old 07-26-2021, 07:26 PM   #21
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While getting a rider may be a cost of only a few hundred dollars, you may find that that it only covers certain things.... Because of liability reason, rent dock space at your personal dock really doesn't make sense if you ask me.

Its great right up until an accident happens...
Plus the whole tax thing. You will owe them. And if your plan was not to pay them...is it really worth the risk during an audit, especially having left a paper trail on the insurance showing you knew it was a business?
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Old 07-27-2021, 06:29 PM   #22
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Default rent or lease?

I believe Laconia has, or is considering, zoning that would prevent renting in certain residential areas. There is a lengthy thread on this. HOWEVER, draw the distinction between renting, say for a vacation week, and leasing for more than 6 months. Short term rent requires you to register and pay NH Room and Meals tax. Long term lease is completely different. All the discussion about city/town ordinances, residential vs commercial zoning, etc. still applies.
If you don't charge rent, or have some other legal consideration and you let you neighbor use your dock for 20+ years, the neighbor may have a right to use under adverse possession laws.
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Old 07-30-2021, 08:43 AM   #23
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Cool No Cleats on My Dock...

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C'mon, what could happen around boats and docks?

(slippery dock, cleats to trip on, boat to fall into/out of, motor, propeller, gasoline, lightening strike, massive surf wakes knocking someone out the side of the boat, dog bites, electric cord in the water, ........)
"Horsepower is how fast you hit the dock. Torque is how far you move it."

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Old 07-31-2021, 07:39 AM   #24
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... If you don't charge rent, or have some other legal consideration and you let you neighbor use your dock for 20+ years, the neighbor may have a right to use under adverse possession laws.
Adverse possession/squatter's rights never apply when you initially have permission.

"Adverse" refers to open and obvious use without asking permission.
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Old 07-31-2021, 08:30 AM   #25
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Adverse possession/squatter's rights never apply when you initially have permission.

"Adverse" refers to open and obvious use without asking permission.
While I believe this to be completely correct, based on my own family’s experience I would recommend that any friendly agreement like this should be documented. In our case the elderly couple we shared the dock with passed away and the next generation sold their camp telling the new owners, not only that they owned dock rights, but the dock itself. If my grandfather had the agreement in writhing, we couldn’t find it. Eventually our family decided to let the place go.
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Old 07-31-2021, 01:50 PM   #26
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Puck-
This is sad, yet well-taken information (concerning the dock "loaning" and documentation).
You didn't say if the dock situation was at the forefront of the family's decision to "let the place go", but giving up long-time family spots are well documented around here ( lamented/celebrated events).
Many of these transactions have been described on this forum, and most of them, seems to me, have revolved around inheritors unable to agree on who pays what, who's responsibilities are these, how much time do I get- and like that.
I hope this wasn't a painful event for you and the others involved.
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Old 07-31-2021, 06:56 PM   #27
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You didn't say if the dock situation was at the forefront of the family's decision to "let the place go"
It was. What made it easier was the fact that, at that time, there were multiple other family members who had places where we were/are welcome. We have one last island foothold and there is agreement that no matter what, it must stay within the family..
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Old 08-01-2021, 06:57 AM   #28
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It was. What made it easier was the fact that, at that time, there were multiple other family members who had places where we were/are welcome. We have one last island foothold and there is agreement that no matter what, it must stay within the family..
The news of your continued enjoyment of the area is good to hear.
As far as the family's "famous last words"- my best wishes for the future.
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