Lock paddles down when leaving a lock (Jonathan Wilkins)

Renting a boat is a great way to find out whether boating suits you, but it needs some care.  If something does go wrong (e.g. you sink, you crash...) you won’t be happy to find out you're uninsured and liable and that your landlord (waterlord) has done a runner.

If you're just staying on a friend's boat for the weekend, that's one thing, but renting a boat commercially is another.  So if you're thinking of doing that, check first that the boat you have in mind has:

  1. Adequate third party rental insurance - this is not the usual insurance that most boats have for private use.  (Check whether the insurance extends to your contents as well - it's not vital but it's worth knowing, one way or the other.)
  2. A Boat Safety Scheme certificate for hire, passenger, commercial and business use.  We covered the boat safety scheme in How to buy a narrowboat but this is an enhanced version needed for when a boat is used for rental.  
  3. A Canal and River Trust business licence, which is only granted if 1 and 2 are in place.

If your boat for rental doesn't have all that in place, then you're in 'cowboy landlord' territory.You can find more details and links here: https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/media/library/723.pdf