What Are the Laws for Living in a Houseboat in South Florida?


Quick Answer

Title XXIV, Chapter 327 of Florida Vessel Safety Law outlines a number of laws that pertain to anyone living aboard a houseboat in Florida, according to the official Florida Legislature website. The laws govern equipment and operation of live-aboard vessels. For instance, all houseboats on Florida waters must be equipped with a minimum of one permanently installed toilet, as of 2015. Each toilet must be attached to a United States Coast Guard-approved sanitation pumpout device.

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Full Answer

No officer may board a houseboat to inspect sanitation unless the boat owner or operator is aboard, states the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. An inspection officer may board a manned vessel with consent or with probable suspicion of a sanitation code violation.

Marinas may not enforce evacuation of houseboats following a hurricane alert, notes the Florida Legislature. Marinas can, however, require certain cleats, fenders, ropes and other equipment as a condition of docking at a facility. Marina operators may take reasonable action to secure houseboats in order to prevent damage to docks, marina property and the environment, according to Title XXIV, Chapter 327 of Florida Vessel Safety Law.

Statutory Florida law defines a houseboat as a vessel used as a primary place of residence for a minimum of 21 out of 30 days to the preclusion of the vessel's use as a mode of transportation, according to official Florida Legislature documents. A houseboat, as defined by law, is not used for navigation, but as a permanent domicile.

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