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Moorings can’t be sold with this property

Dear Heather: I have seen a house on the water that I would like to buy. The owner has four moorings off the dock which I would like to have. However, I am confused as I have been told that the moorings can't be sold with the house. Please could you explain this to me? — Waterfront

Dear Waterfront: It is certainly easy to assume that because a mooring is located close to the property that it automatically can be transferred with the property, particularly if the owner is agreeable.

However, in Bermuda, moorings should not be included in a sale-and-purchase agreement as they are not considered part of the property. The seabed is owned by the Crown, not the landowner.

In order to take over an existing mooring you must first have a boat. There is a maximum of one mooring licence per registered boat that you own. As long as you are eligible on this count you can apply for a mooring licence and the current licensee can then sign the mooring over to you. It is important to note that all moorings must be accessed in a legal manner, meaning you cannot cross private property. So whilst anyone is entitled to have a mooring in any bay this makes some bays in Bermuda much less accessible to people other than adjacent property owners.

In terms of applying for a new mooring, most of the desirable (insurable) bays are currently closed off due to lack of space. However if there is an eligible bay and you wish to drop your own mooring, you can apply via an application form (available from the Department of Marine & Ports Services) which must be accompanied by a $100 application fee. A new mooring application generally takes four to six weeks to process, and the officer will go out to the area and decide if there is suitable space. If approved, the applicant must then pay the annual registration fee for the mooring licence, currently $165. Moorings should not be moved or dropped without permission. Legally, mooring spots cannot be sold, the only thing you are able to sell is the weight, chain and buoy.

Marine & Ports does not sanction the renting of moorings. A mooring licence is granted for that person's sole use, not to rent to someone else. However they will approve boats other than the licensees' boat to occupy a mooring, as long as the size of the boat does not exceed the registered length of the licence.

This raises the question of the policies surrounding the private boat/yacht clubs on the Island.

Boats tied to the dock do not have to apply to the Department of Marine & Ports, but usually have to pay a fee to the club for the “berth”. The area upon which the dock is built has usually been leased from government for a specific number of years. Swing moorings still fall under the normal Marine & Ports regulations and policies.

It should be noted here that application for a floating dock should go through the Department of Planning as the intent is to attach the dock to the foreshore; applications should include drawings and state the purpose. These submissions are reviewed by Marine & Ports to ensure that the installation of the dock won't interfere with any other private moorings and have to be approved as such, in addition to approval by Planning.

This answer is intended as a useful guide only and any questions or concerns regarding moorings should be directed to the Department of Marine & Ports Services, Boats & Moorings Section.

•Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty's leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 25 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated confidentially

Heather Chilvers

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Published December 15, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 15, 2015 at 1:13 am)

Moorings can’t be sold with this property

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