Can a Florida Marina Require You to Move Your Boat when a Hurricane is Approaching?
It is a common after a hurricane to see boats strewn across docks as well as marina pilings and bulkheads severally damaged. In an effort to protect against hurricane damage, many marina storage agreements contain a clause requiring boat owners to move their vessels out of the marina when a hurricane is approaching. This clause also holds the boat owners responsible for any damage caused by their vessels to the marina should the owners not move their water crafts. Should your marina try to hold you responsible for damage resulting from not removing your boat prior to a hurricane, the law is on your side.
Florida law states:
Marinas may not adopt, maintain, or enforce policies pertaining to evacuation of vessels which require vessels to be removed from marinas following the issuance of a hurricane watch or warning, in order to ensure that protecting the lives and safety of vessel owners is placed before interests of protecting property.
Courts interpreting this statute determined marinas have no claim against the boat owners for failing to remove their vessels when a hurricane is approaching.
With this said, however, marinas can require boat owners to use certain kind of cleats, ropes, fenders and any other type of damage mitigating equipment as a condition to storing their boats at the marina. Should the boat owner fail to utilize the equipment required in the marina storage agreement, and it could be proven that had the equipment been utilized the marina would not have suffered damage, the marina then will be able to bring a claim against the boat owner.