Boat rental middlemen told their operations are illegal

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Amsterdam is closing the door on two local online companies that were intent on operating as middlemen between private boat-owners and people looking for short-term boat rentals. “It’s a nice initiative but it’s not allowed,” spokeswoman Daniëlle van Gerven of said, reports Het Parool.

Start-ups GoBoat and Barqo were aiming for the supply and demand market in the private boating sector; it would only take a few mouse clicks for owners and renters to do business. These few clicks would earn GoBoat and Barqo a commission. Van Gerven confirmed though that Waternet has informed the companies that this is in violation of the rules. Anyone who wants to put a boat up for rent, should be in possession of a business license; having one means the owner meets all sorts of safety requirements. Private boat owners are usually not put through those wringers. GoBoat has meanwhile been asked to refuse access to owners who have registered. Barqo, which planned to go online next week, has been told that its Amsterdam operations are illegal. Waternet does not consider the companies merely go-betweens, as they earn money from each person renting out his boat. “At least 15 precent of the price goes to the websites, which makes them professional lessors. We have to follow the rules of Amsterdam and both companies do something that is a violation of the regulations,” said Daniëlle van Gerven. Ironically, the companies’ initiatives actually shed more light on the informal practice of renting private boats. “We don’t take action against a private boat owner who accepts some money from his neighbor who takes his boat out for a day on the canals. We can’t control that. But these companies centralize the rental, which enables us to put the regulations in effect,” said the spokeswoman. Quinten Hoogeboom of GoBoat said the regulations were unclear and his company was now looking at what possibilities there are for an amicable solution. “There is a need for these types of initiatives. People want to share their properties and the city actually supports this type of initiative, so we hope the regulations change,” he said. Said Floris van Hoogenhuyze of Barqo: “Let’s hoope the city and Waternet are willing to change along.”