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Marina refusing to release boat to me, is this legal?

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Marina refusing to release boat to me, is this legal?

Old 04-10-2019, 12:07 PM
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Default Marina refusing to release boat to me, is this legal?

Hello, I hope this is in the right place ( new to the forum here).


I've owned many boats, about 50/50 purchased either through a broker or private sale and I've never came across this issue. I recently purchased a 26' boat that was at a marina in Clinton CT. I met the seller on site and we agreed on a price on the spot. he had the registration (serves as title in CT) and I paid him cash. I did ask if launch was included in the winter storage he had paid for and he said yes. The marina was closed, but I called on Monday and informed them I was the new owner of the boat and gave them my information. The lady at the marina then told me that the previous owner owed them a bill for winter storage and engine maintenance they had done at his request last year before the boat was pulled. So they guy had lied to me about the bill being paid up. But, This is April and I would have never assumed that they had done work and stored the boat all winter without as much as a deposit.


The marina is now saying that they will not launch the boat or allow me to have the boat trucked off the property until the previous owners bill is paid in full! I told them I would be willing to pay to have them launch the boat for me, but I am not willing to pay the previous owners bill in full. I feel that it is up to them to collect payment for work done and should not fall on me a year later.


My question is, can they legally withhold my property even though I have requested no work and they have no contract with me? I believe they can go after the previous owner, but how can they go after me? I learned a lesson though, never trust the word of the owner during a sale.


I'll probably end up having to pay it, but I feel like the marina is willingly going to screw me over so they get their money by any means necessary even though it's their fault for doing work and not collecting payment up front like most places do.


any thoughts would be much appreciated.

I will be following this up with some detailed threads on the restoration of this boat and the story behind it once I figure out this legal issue first.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:09 PM
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Call the old owner yet?
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:10 PM
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Sure - sounds like their was a lien of sorts on the boat you bought. They would be out of their minds to give up the boat before they are made whole. Your recourse is to pay them and then go after the guy that sold you the boat.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:11 PM
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the old saying no cash no splash
they had the boat for the winter and would have likely not launched it or allowed that owner to remove the boat from the property before getting paid

most places do not collect money up front unless its a known dead beat, most will get a deposit with balance due prior to launch,
your beef is with the owner not the marina
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:11 PM
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How much $$ are we talking here?

If it's a lot, I'm contacting a lawyer. If it's not much, I'd just pay it.

Have you contacted the previous owner?
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:12 PM
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What's the old owner say? I'm sure he has a receipt if he did pay for services last year
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:12 PM
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Burn previous owners house down then marina
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:12 PM
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Sounds like the Previous Owner set You up! Sorry to hear ,But I'd be right at His Door Step!!
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:15 PM
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Legally, it probably depends on state law. Here I think they can hold it, but I don't know if there are per-requisites they have to meet first, like filing some sort of claim or lien.

I would contact the PO first and see if at least they agree (and I might record that conversation if you can do it legally). He may have had a dispute with them that he thought was settled, or they may have credited his payments to someone else's account. I'd get his side first. If he didn't pay then I'm wondering if you have any communications from him that say that the storage was already paid that you could use to recover your costs from him eventually.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:15 PM
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Issue is between you and seller.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:16 PM
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Pay the bill with your credit card, get the boat out of there and file a dispute. Tell the credit card company that you did not understand at the time that they were charging you for someone else's bill.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:17 PM
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Your issue is with the previous owner. Not the marina.

This is the stuff made for Judge Judy. Seller will say he told you about his debt and it was part of the sell price. You of course will say he did not.

She will say "what does the contract between the seller and the buyer say?"

By the way, what does the contract between you and the seller say?
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Lorne Greene View Post
Pay the bill with your credit card, get the boat out of there and file a dispute. Tell the credit card company that you did not understand at the time that they were charging you for someone else's bill.
Yes. Be sure to send the credit card company and the marina a copy of this excellent legal advice. Also cc the local district attorney's office.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:21 PM
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Sounds like you have to go to small claims court to try to recoup the bill that you will have to pay to get your boat.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:24 PM
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Unhappy Holding Boat!

I am not a lawyer, but I believe you are correct that your new to you boat does not hold you liable for the the past owner's deadbeat behavior and that their actions are not legal.
But having made my opening statement, the fact remains they have the boat and you don't! This is now a legal matter which will require a lawyer, for you to either go after the dirt-bag from whom you bought the boat or to take action against the marina. Remember, if going after the seller it is impossible to squeeze blood from a rock.

Therefore, the question for you what are the costs of the services to be paid to the marina vs the cost of lawyer. It may be in your best interest to chalk-up this whole situation to a learning experience and pay the marina for their services. Call the Marina ask for the outstanding balance on the boat and for the document upon which they hang their position and meet with an attorney and get an estimate of costs. All in all you are not getting out of this without additional out of pocket costs.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:25 PM
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How did you seatrial it if they won't splash it?
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:27 PM
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First thing is to talk to the owner. Maybe you can get it resolved with him. Sounds like that is pretty unlikely, but at least you can try. From there it is going to get uglier if he's refusing to pay, or just goes ahead and starts lying by telling you he told you about the bill.


I would not lie to my credit card company or use them to try to scam a marina that is just trying to run a business. I wouldn't do it even if I thought I could get away with it, but given that you have already talked to the marina, I really wouldn't expect you to get away with it. Hell, at that point, it's more direct to just go steal the boat out of the yard rather than using the credit card company to do it for you.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Lorne Greene View Post
Pay the bill with your credit card, get the boat out of there and file a dispute. Tell the credit card company that you did not understand at the time that they were charging you for someone else's bill.
sorry but this is a chicken shit thing to do to the marina, they did nothing wrong here and are just looking to get paid for work performed.


Perhaps OP can meet with the previous owner and the marina representative and clear this up, this way there is no miscommunication going forward, or an email chain- you get the idea.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:27 PM
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The dude lied ... he is a pos... pay it and move on.
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Old 04-10-2019, 12:30 PM
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Sorry for your predicament but the Marina had/ has collateral (the boat) to cover the invoice. Not their fault the seller mislead you.
A survey or demo ride probably would have caused the issue to surface and are always a good idea before final payment.
Paying with credit card and stopping payment makes you as bad as the seller. Pay the bill and go after the seller.
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