A word of caution to all vessel owners: leaving your vessel on another person’s property without any contract or agreement for storage, could result in a declaration that the boat has been legally abandoned. Many people arrange for the storage of their vessel on another’s property pursuant to some type of storage agreement. Other people have essentially left their vessel on another person’s property without having a proper storage arrangement —perhaps they have assumed the property owner or company does not mind. This may be a major source of annoyance for the property owner, but at a certain point they no longer need to concern themselves with the boat’s owner, as the vessel may have become legally abandoned.
So, just when does a boat or vessel become legally abandoned? Such a case arose recently. On an application to the Federal Court by the property owner, the court ordered that the vessel in question, a 28-foot pleasure craft, was abandoned by the owner and that title to the boat vests absolutely in the property owner. The law of the abandonment of movable personal property (chattels) is very old and is essentially unchanged, but the case sets an interesting precedent for vessel owners because this law had not previously been applied to a vessel.
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