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Chelsea Yacht & Boat Co Ltd v Pope [2000] 1 WLR 1941. Court of Appeal

A houseboat was moored to a pontoon and to the bank of the Thames. It was connected to mains services but it could be quite easily untied and the services disconnected . It floated on the Thames and would at times rest on the riverbed when the tide was out. It was possible that it could be towed to a new location.


There was no assured tenancy of the houseboat.

Tuckey LJ:

"it is important to bear in mind that what is required is sufficient attachment to the land so that the chattel becomes part of the land itself. Here the houseboat rested periodically on the river bed below it and was secured by ropes, and perhaps to an extent the services, to other structures. It is difficult to see how attachments in this way to the pontoons, the anchor in the riverbed and the rings in the embankment wall could possibly make the houseboat part of the land. One is bound to ask 'which land'? There is in my judgment no satisfactory answer to this question. More importantly, however, all these attachments could simply be undone. The houseboat could be moved quite easily without injury to itself or the land. The agreement contemplates that it will be moved, and, in practical terms, required Mr Pope to dry dock it if he was to fulfil his obligation to paint the hull. The fact that it cannot move under its own power is not the point. Whilst the houseboat was obviously intended to be moored where it was for the term of the agreement at least, the fact that it could and would have to be moved greatly undermines the argument based on permanence.

Turning then to the object or purpose of annexure, Miss Easty strongly submits that the attachment of the houseboat was to provide a permanent home for its occupant. I do not agree. It is not necessary to annex the houseboat to the land to enable it to be used as a home. The attachments were, like the ship's anchor referred to by Blackburn J, to prevent the houseboat from being carried by the tide or the weather up or down stream and to provide the services to it.

For these reasons I conclude that the houseboat has not become part of the land. I support this conclusion on the grounds of common sense. It is common sense that a house built on land is part of the land (see Lord Lloyd of Berwick in the Elitestone case [1997] 2 All ER 513 at 518–519, [1997] 1 WLR 687 at 692). So too it is common sense that a boat on a river is not part of the land. A boat, albeit one used as a home, is not of the same genus as real property."
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