Jan 162013

You may remember I posted about a pending Supreme Court decision regarding what constituted a floating home vs vessel.  If you are too lazy to click that heavy link, here are the basics:

Guy has a floating house tied up to a city marina in Riviera Beach, Florida.

City decides they want to redevelop the marina.

City tells guy house/vessel must go.

Guy protests and stops paying rent.

City declares that the floating house is a vessel and seizes said vessel…then destroys it.

Guy sues city claiming floating house was a house like on land and city had no right to seize it.

The case made it all the way to the highest court in the land…no, not American Idol, the Supreme Court, and surprisingly, the court ruled in favor of the human as opposed to the city.  The court says that because the house doesn’t have any propulsion, doesn’t carry passengers, and all that other stuff that real vessels do, it obviously is not a vessel, and therefore not subject to maritime or admiralty law, which is what the city of Riviera Beach used to seize and destroy the structure.

It’s an interesting decision and could well impact many of the houses that float down here in Key West.  Garrison Bight on the corner of North Roosevelt and Palm has many floating houses.   Since these are no longer vessels, will the city be able to tax them like regular land based homes?  Will new laws be enacted that restrict what sort of floating structures can be used as homes?

At least the individual won out this time.  This is a rare victory against government and no doubt the guy will now go after some cash in civil court.  But beware.  The law of unintended consequences always comes into play with every law and court decision.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future regarding living aboard.

Capt. Fritter

  3 Responses to “It’s A Home, Not A Vessel…”

  1. I read an article about this and immediately thought of the fritter blog. The ramifications of this decision is even more interesting then the ruling. Just like everything else pertaining to law, some shady bright lawyer will find a way to skirt the law and make someone (or the govt) money.

    • Hmmm. I’m not sure about that. Somebody mentions the Supreme Court and the first thing that comes to mind is this blog? Scary.

      C. F.

  2. sounds almost like a frank capra movie. jimmy stewart could play the home vessel owner. the home that’s not a vessel i mean. it’s too confusing. at least he won. that’s the important precedent here. it will make it tougher for the next city or county ‘government.’ with a capital g.
    a year goes by pretty darn fast and $1200 is a nice little sum. tempting i would think.
    a pot of gold for a pirate. penalty… staying put for 12 whole months. hmmmmm. . .