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Buying or renting a houseboat

Before you rent or buy a houseboat, check where you can moor it. There are limited places you can keep a residential houseboat in Scotland.

Buying a houseboat

You cannot get a mortgage for a houseboat. A marine finance lender may give you a loan, and usually they will charge high interest rates.

Get a marine surveyors report to make sure the boat is in good condition and ready to live in.

Check whether the boat has essentials such as:

  • running water

  • electricity

  • heating

If the houseboat has a residential mooring, check if it has an address and rubbish collection.

Renting a houseboat

Before you rent a houseboat check that it comes with a residential mooring. Make sure your landlord has the right to rent it out.

Ask to see a copy of the agreement you’ll sign. Make sure you agree with the terms and conditions before signing it.

Your rights if you rent a houseboat

You’ll usually have a tenancy agreement with common law rights. Check your common law tenancy rights.

If you rent a houseboat with a residential mooring, you’ll be responsible for paying the council tax.

If you need help paying rent

You could get Universal Credit or Housing Benefit to help pay your:

  • houseboat rent

  • mooring rent

  • boat licence

To check if you can get benefits, use the Turn2Us benefits calculator.

Finding a mooring for your houseboat

To find somewhere to moor your houseboat check the Scottish Canals' list of moorings.

If you plan to move your houseboat between moorings

This is sometimes called a cruising mooring.

To move between moorings, you’ll need a boat safety scheme certificate and a cruising licence.

If you own your own land

You can establish a residential mooring there. You may need permission from the council. If the mooring is on the coast, get permission from the Crown Estate.

For more advice on living on a houseboat, check Canal Junction's guidance.

Last updated: 19 January 2023

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England