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More confusion for Missouri boat dock law

Boat docks, like other properties along Missouri’s lakes, are valuable and jealously guarded by those claiming ownership or rights of use.

The law of boat docks is a muddle, perhaps due to the historic lack of clarity as to whether a boat dock is real property (land and the things attached permanently to it) or personal property (anything but real property), which is generally portable.

The Missouri legislature attempted to resolve that issue for the purposes of appraisal and mortgage lending with the enactment of  HB 842, sponsored by Rep. Dennis Wood, whose legislative district encompasses Table Rock Lake.

Signed by Gov. Nixon on July 7, 2009 and effective August 28, 2009, this new law defines “boat dock” as “a structure for loading and unloading boats and connecting real property to water, public or private.” In addition, “a boat dock is real property and has riparian rights,” provided:

(a)        The lender includes the boat dock as a fixture both in the lender’s deed of trust and a uniform commercial code fixture filing under section 400.9-502, RSMo;

(b)       The boat dock is attached to the real property by steel cable, bar, or chain that is permanently imbedded in concrete or rock, and otherwise securely attached to the dock; and

(c)        The owner of the dock has riparian rights by means of real estate rights bordering the body of water, including such rights by license, grant, or other means allowing access to the body of water, which access may be seasonal because the water may be reduced for electric power production or flood control;

According to some reports, HB 842 was a cooperative effort, with input from the Missouri Board of Realtors and the Missouri Bankers Association. There were several economic reasons for the bill:

  • If boat docks were clearly defined as real property, their value could be included in real estate appraisals, which means that a borrower would be required to make a smaller down payment for a loan secured by a deed of trust on lake property with a dock than if the dock were excluded from the appraisal.
  • A deed of trust on the lake property would clearly include the boat dock, if the deed of trust included the boat dock and the lender filed a financing statement to show its claim of a lien.

HB 842 modified section 339.503, the section of Chapter 339 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri (RSMo), which includes definitions of terms for statutes affecting real estate appraisers. By its language, the definitions contained in section 339.503 are only applicable to sections 339.500 through 339.549, which is officially known as the Missouri Certified and Licensed Real Estate Appraisers Act.

Will there be unintended consequences? I hope not. But the limitations of the definition of boat dock to real estate appraisal and mortgage lending may be overlooked, when lawyers and judges are trying to figure out how to resolve a dispute.

Here are some of my concerns:

  1. The definition of boat dock as a facility for loading and unloading boats is ambiguous. Boat docks are places where boats are moored and fueled and where people get on and off boats. “Loading and unloading boats” seems to have to do with cargo or with launching of boats from land to water and putting them back on trailers.
  2. If the idea of HB 842 was to allow lenders to make loans for the construction of boat docks, then it may work. But individual owners of lake homes generally buy and sell boat slips, not docks, and HB 842 doesn’t address the multiple-owner nature of community boat docks.
  3. The definition of a boat dock as real property has implications for recording of deeds and the assessment of real estate taxes. Must a boat dock be shown on a recorded plat in order that a deed for it can be recorded, as with lots? Do county assessors have to give each dock and separately-owned part of it a separate parcel number? Must a title insurance policy include the value of the dock (or slip in a community dock)?
  4. Is a boat slip real estate? After all, a boat slip is not a structure, but a hole in the structure, sometimes under a roof, and sometimes containing a lift attached to the dock? How is a boat slip described in a deed of trust?
  5. If there is no loan, is the boat dock real property? The first required element (a) of there being a loan is especially troublesome. If the loan is paid off, does the boat dock cease to be real property. If the loan includes a boat slip in a community dock, does the real property definition apply only to portions of the boat dock which have loans secured by deeds of trust that described the boat dock, but not to the rest of the dock?
  6. The second element (b), requires a boat dock, to be real property, “to be attached to the real property by a steel cable, bar or chain that is permanently embedded in concrete or rock….” On a Corps of Engineers lake, the anchor point is most likely to be on federal property.  If the permanent attachment to land is what makes the dock real estate, traditional property law would state that the dock then belongs to the federal government, whose land the dock is permanently attached to.
  7. Riparian rights are not the same on every lake. On lakes managed by the Corps of Engineers, the shoreline and the lake bottom are owned by the federal government. The owners of lots abutting the federal ownership boundary around a lake (called the “take line”) do not have riparian rights, because owners of these lots generally do not abut the water. HB 842 would seem to give real estate appraisers the right to place a value on riparian rights that may not exist except in the statute book, which makes for bad lending practices.

Most of the docks on Table Rock are community docks. My view is that the owners of boat slips have a right to be on the dock and to park their boats in slips, along with the obligation to contribute to the maintenance of the dock, all according to the terms of the Corps of Engineers’ regulations and policies. Even though slips and docks are bought and sold every day, I have never found any clear legal authority for any proposition other than that a community dock on Table Rock is owned by the federal government, with each slip owner actually owning an exclusive license to use the slip and the duty to maintain the dock, but no ownership right unless the Corps of Engineers orders removal of the dock. Nothing about HB 842 changes my opinion.

For docks on Lake of the Ozarks, Taneycomo and other non-federal lakes in Missouri, HB 842 may be helpful and practical. I’m interested in hearing the views of lawyers and real estate appraisers who work on other lakes in Missouri.

The problems with HB 842 will have to be worked out over time. As a member of the Missouri Bar’s legislative review committee for property law, I missed this bill as it went through the legislature and regret that I did not voice my concerns to the Missouri Bar’s legislative counsel.

Appraiser Dave Doering has pointed out in his helpful comment (below) on March 26, 2014, that the Missouri legislature added a definition of boat slip in HB 1692, amending Chapter 339, Section 339.503 (13) RSMo. However, the legislature still did not define a boat slip as real property, which means that appraisers may not properly include the values of boat slips in real estate appraisals.


About Harry Styron

I'm a lawyer and mediator who lives in Branson, Missouri, whose professional interests involve real estate, nonprofits, and local government. As of 2022, I'm shrinking my legal practice so that I have more time to mediate real estate disputes. I'm happy to mediate using video platforms like Zoom and WebEx, or in person anywhere in Missouri.

45 responses »

  1. gary blackmore

    we own 2 parcels of land and 2 boat docks on a 400 acre lake in north central Missouri with cabins on that property. we bought 1 in 1998 and the one beside it in 2001 – we take care of our property and it’s looks are an asset to the lake. when we first bought these properties they were advertised by the lake ranger as a place to swim and boat – only the 10hp rule applied – and every homeowner on the lake abided by that.
    the lake is maintained by the city and the conservation has recently gotten involved – this lake is the water supply for the near by city – it seems that now some 10 years later some of our rights are being infringed upon – regarding how the lake was offered to us when we were willing to invest a possible nest egg into something to enjoy in the retirement years. they have now taken away the 10 hp limit (no wake only) and they are now telling us that we can no longer swim off of our docks – which none of the probably 20 homeowners – have never abused – it’s just an occasional swim when you have the grand-kids or friends several times during the summer months. I guess my question would be: do we as home-owners on this lake have any “RIPARIAN RIGHTS” regarding this situation? they have redone the dam years ago and actually my property has been flooded as has others – so my property line is out in the water – I or the previous owner was never compensated for that when the change was made on the dam?? just wanted to know our legal rights – thanks for your help – – GB

    • GB,
      To determine where you stand, a lawyer will need to review your deed, the covenants of the subdivision that you’re in, a subdivision plat, and any other public records applicable to the lake and your subdivision.

      From what you’ve said, it sounds like that the lake is not owned by a governmental unit. However, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources may have regulatory authority over the integrity of the dam. If the lake was built under a soil conservation program, there may be involvement of federal agencies, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

      Probably, lawyers in your county are familiar with the lake and associated problems. If they can’t help you, please contact me privately. The practice of real estate law is a highly local endeavor, and you need the assistance of someone familiar with your area, the people involved and the local lawyers and judges.

      Thanks for writing.

  2. Pingback: More confusion for Missouri boat dock law | TECHtop

  3. Poorly written but interesting. As a real property appraiser this HB 842 does not change my opinion that boat docks are personal property. I think I understand the need here but there has to be a better solution. My biggest problem with considering boat docks real estate is that they don’t, in my opinion, constitute real property since they are not permanently attached to the land. One of the issues that has been ongoing is the taxation of boat slips. There tend to be specific issues related to determining ownership since there is no deed with the property. The other issue that has been a particular problem is keeping track of the location of the dock. Unfortunately (or fortuntately depending on your point of view) they are very simple to move because their attachments to the real estate tend to be of a temporary nature. The temporary nature is supported on Corps of Engineers Lakes where the Corps permits each dock. I don’t think they have any mandate to permit any dock on one of their lakes indicating that they could decide to remove any or all dock permits (and the docks themselves). While that may be an extreme example this bill is presumably being created to allow banks to lend on boat slips. While it would be good to create a system that addresses boat slips so that banks could more easily lend on them. I don’t think this is the solution. It seems to me that we need to observe the entire system including, permitting, leasing, deeds, taxation, and lending to create a separate piece of legislation that fixes all the problems related to this issue. In short, a boat slip is still personal property in my book whether or not the State lets me call it that.

    • Jerry,

      Thanks for commenting. An appraiser’s viewpoint is helpful.

      The legislative history of HB 842 indicates that the part of it pertaining to boat docks was added in the Senate version on April 23, and the bill was sent back to the House and voted on in its final version on May 5.

      In the flurry of the legislative process, an amendment can be inserted in a bill without much time for the public to react. My guess is that appraisers, title insurance companies, the Corps of Engineers and others might have wanted a little input so that the result of the legislation would have been more practical.

      The law relating to boat docks and boat slips cries for clarification, and you’re right in suggesting that the legislative efforts should be more comprehensive.

  4. jeffrey snider

    i’m looking to purchase a lake property. the place comes with a dock permit(no dock). this is on lake of the ozarks. what kind of yearly fees and headaches could i expect?

    • Jeffrey,
      I don’t do any work at Lake of the Ozarks and wouldn’t know what to expect.

      I recommend that you get all the information that you can, then review it with a real estate lawyer in Camdenton, Osage Beach or Lake Ozark.

    • Jeff Lake of Oz

      There are no annual fees. It’s a one time fee pending approval of Ameren UE accepting your dock plan which the submittal should be completed like an architect’s plan drawing to scale. I did mine 10 years ago and the fee associated with the application was $395 at the time

      What I am not sure of and find very hard to believe is if the approval is permanently valid and transferable without an approved structure built within a reasonable period of time given you don’t know what was submitted in the original application and codes have (with respect to electrical) have changed.

  5. Pretty cool post. I just came by your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your posts.

    Any way I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon!

  6. Pingback: Posts about Real Estate Law as of August 10, 2009

  7. Harry,

    I find your comments to be both interesting and appropriate. Beyond all the obvious title related and other legal issues, as an appraiser, I too, have some some technical issues relating to the provisions of HB 842. As you are probably aware, this law was crafted specifically to address issues relating to the valuing of boat docks at the Lake of the Ozarks, while it may have applicability elsewhere.

    In particular, on and after August 28, 2009 it may be legally appropriate (by definition) to consider boat docks, subject to the specific conditions of the definitional provisions, as real property and include them (again subject to meeting those provision) in the value of the real property.

    All that being said it is unlikely that the provisions of the new law have been technically met on many, if any, of the current properties at the Lake of the Ozarks, in order to include the boat dock in the value of the real property. Further, it would appear that since two of the four conditions of the definitional criteria to consider a boat dock as real property involves the boat dock being described in the deed of trust and as well as a UCC filing, it would appear that in the absence of the dock being attached to a real estate having a current loan (deed of trust) secured by real estate that there is no provision to be otherwise consider the dock as real property. The conclusion is that boat docks can only be considered to be real property if they are attached to real property that is encumbered, hence a boat dock on a property that is “free and clear” would not meet the definitional provisions of the law.

    Consequently, for an appraiser to properly consider a boat dock in valuing the real property it will be necessary for either evidence of meeting the conditions of the law be provided to the appraiser (which is unlikely to be provided) or that the appraisal be done based upon an extraordinary assumption or perhaps even a hypothetical condition if it is believed that it is contrary to what is known to be the case. The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP) which has the effect of law with respect to the appraisal of real and personal property defines these as follows:

    EXTRAORDINARY ASSUMPTION: an assumption, directly related to a specific assignment, which, if found to be false, could alter the appraiser’s opinions or conclusions.

    Comment: Extraordinary assumptions presume as fact otherwise uncertain information about physical, legal, or economic characteristics of the subject property; or about conditions external to the property, such as market conditions or trends; or about the integrity of data used in an analysis.

    HYPOTHETICAL CONDITION: that which is contrary to what exists but is supposed for the purpose of analysis.

    Comment: Hypothetical conditions assume conditions contrary to known facts about physical, legal, or economic characteristics of the subject property; or about conditions external to the property, such as market conditions or trends; or about the integrity of data used in an analysis.

    Therefore, for the contribution of a boat dock to be legally considered as real property in the appraisal report the report will need to be completed subject to an Extraordinary Assumption or a Hypothetical Condition. If the appraiser has reason to believe that the provisions stated in HB 842 have been met but that specific evidence of compliance was not available or provided, then completing the report subject to an Extraordinary Assumption would be appropriate. However, if as in most cases prior to consummation of the sale that the specific provisions of HB 842 have not yet been met the appraisal report would need to be made subject to a Hypothetical Condition. In either case, a comment (reflecting either it being based upon an Extraordinary Assumption or Hypothetical Condition) that is similar to the following would be necessary to avoid producing a misleading appraisal:

    Extraordinary Assumption (or Hypothetical Condition) – Classification of Boat Dock as Real Property:

    The opinion of value concluded in this appraisal includes a floating boat dock. In accordance with the section 339.503 (7) (a-c) of the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri (RSMo), boat docks may be legally defined as “real property” subject to the following conditions:

    (a) The lender includes the boat dock as a fixture both in the lender’s deed of trust and a uniform commercial code fixture filing under section 400.9-502, RSMo;
    (b) The boat dock is attached to the real property by steel cable, bar, or chain that is permanently imbedded in concrete or rock, and otherwise securely attached to the dock; and
    (c) The owner of the dock has riparian rights by means of real estate rights bordering the body of water, including such rights by license, grant, or other means allowing access to the body of water, which access may be seasonal because the water may be reduced for electric power production or flood control;

    Specific information documenting conformity with the provision of 339.503 (7) (a-c) of the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri (RSMo) were not provided or available to the appraiser at the time of preparation of this appraisal. Consequently, this appraisal has been made subject to the extraordinary assumption (or hypothetical condition) that the statutory conditions of law regarding the classification of the boat dock to be legally defined as real property have been (or will be met) as of the date of closing of the real estate financing transaction for which this appraisal has been prepared. In the event that this is not the case, the inclusion of the contributory value of the boat dock in the value of the real property would not be appropriate and the opinion of value would be invalid.

    As appraisers, we are neither for or against considering boat docks or anything that is clearly defined by law and possesses the necessary characteristics of real property as such. On numerous occasions, the Missouri Real Estate Appraisers Commission (MREAC) has stated that boat docks on public lakes are not real property. Despite this and prior to the current debate, some appraisers would inappropriately include the dock in the value of the real estate, while others would not. As a result, lenders (such as mortgage brokers) with the inability to otherwise collateralize the boat dock would seek appraisers that would ignore the determination of the MREAC and include the dock in the value of the real property. Unfortunately, since the dock was neither encumbered by the deed of trust nor was a UCC filing done, by including the dock in the value, the loan may as a result be under-collateralized. The argument is has been made that boat docks should be considered much in the same way as business fixtures and chattels are commonly considered as a part of real property interests in commercial real estate. However, as a matter of perspective, it is not unusual for a typical boat dock configuration a the Lake of the Ozarks to have a five-figure contribution with some of the mega-docks having a six-figure price tag. And, unlike fixtures and other common chattels, it is not possible to remove a few bolts and float most fixtures and chattels away.

    As appraisers, our concern in this whole controversy about including boat docks in valuing real property was a matter of acting in the best interest of our clients by seeking clarity and consistency. For many years there has been an ongoing debate between real estate agents, appraisers and some lenders whether boat docks that are typically attached by a ramp and cables to property that may or may not belong to the owner of the dock would meet the test of being real property. As you can see, from an appraiser’s perspective, HB 842 causes almost as many issues as it was intended to remedy.

    Dave Doering

    • Dave,
      I appreciate your comments, particularly about boat docks on Lake of the Ozarks. Unlike Table Rock, Stockton Lake and Bull Shoals, Lake of the Ozarks is privately-owned, with property lines of lakefront properties being defined by the waterline. Docks on Lake of the Ozarks are frequently anchored to shoreline owned by dockowners, while docks on Table Rock, Stockton Lake and Bull Shoals are anchored to land owned by the federal government.

      The legal idea of fixtures is that the ownership of the attached personal property (the fixture, in this discussion, a dock) runs with the ownership of the land the fixture is attached to. But what if the dock has multiple owners?

      But this legislation, like much legislation, doesn’t really mesh with physical, economic or legal reality.

  8. Harry,
    In reality, few docks at the Lake of the Ozarks are anchored to the property of the owners. AmerenUE owns up to the 665′ elevation contour which is the maximum power pool. In many cases, the 665′ elevation contour includes the portion of the shoreline where the dock is attached to a piling or pier, however the cable securing the dock may extend to the owner’s site. Docks at the Lake of the Ozarks are permitted by a permit that must be renewed. If the permit has not been renewed, the dock can be removed by AmerenUE. Consequently, any riparian rights may be subject to the permit being maintained and are not perpetual.

    The issue of “community docks” common to some HOA’s is not even addressed in the law. Further at the Lake of the Ozarks, most community docks are technically leased from the HOA.

  9. I recently tried to refinance my Table Rock home which I own with 2 slips. The 1st appraiser says she cannot include slip in appraisal. I contacted another appraiser who deals only in lake property, and they disagree with the 1st appraiser who does not do lake properties, as well as the local bank, which only handles lake property. Therefore, the slips are included in the appraisal on Table Rock Lake, thanks to Dennis Wood’s legislation.

  10. Whether a boat dock or boat slip is included by the appraiser in the appraisal of real property in the State of Missouri is not a matter of the appraiser’s opinion, but a matter of law. Specifically, in accordance with section 339.503 (7) (a-c) of the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri (RSMo), boat docks may be legally defined as “real property” subject to the following conditions:

    (a) The lender includes the boat dock as a fixture both in the lender’s deed of trust and a uniform commercial code fixture filing under section 400.9-502, RSMo;
    (b) The boat dock is attached to the real property by steel cable, bar, or chain that is permanently imbedded in concrete or rock, and otherwise securely attached to the dock; and
    (c) The owner of the dock has riparian rights by means of real estate rights bordering the body of water, including such rights by license, grant, or other means allowing access to the body of water, which access may be seasonal because the water may be reduced for electric power production or flood control.

    As is obvious from the above excerpt from statute, the application of the provisions to consider whether a boat dock or slip is real or personal property is based upon an individual determination with respect to the circumstances of each boat dock or slip on a case by case basis. The definitional criteria resulting from HB 842 (now reflected in 339.503 (7) (a-c) of the Revised Statutes of the State of Missouri) in no way provides for special consideration or a “blanket” inclusion of all boat docks or slips as real property for Table Rock Lake or any other lake or body of water in the state.

    It is the responsibility of the appraiser to include or not to include the boat dock or slip in the opinion of value for the real property based upon each individual circumstance relative to the specific requirements of the law. To do otherwise and include boat docks or slips in the opinion of value of the real property would be misleading and a violation of the Missouri appraisers practice act and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices.

  11. Jim Hollenberg

    I enjoyed this article and discussion and agree with Dave Doering. As an appraiser I have said since the law came out that it did not clarify anything, but muddied the waters. Previously docks were considered personal property and were bought and sold (still are even now) separate from the real estate. To complete an appraisal on a property that contains a dock now requires much more work for the appraiser to identify that it meets the requirements of the law and then also to identify if the other sales being used as comparables meet the requirements of the law.

    Another issue is that if docks are considered real property than the sale of that dock included with the real estate should have given the Realtor a commission on the dock. Where as most cases there is no commission paid.

    I have done several appraisals since the law and have started charging more due to the extensive research that is required to not be misleading and stay within the guidelines of USPAP.

    I am forwarding this page on to others so that they will also keep informed on this issue. Education of what the law states is needed because several appraisers have just read blogs from local Realtors that claimed the law would now count docks as real property.

    I will continue to watch your website for other informative information on Real Estate. Thanks again.

  12. Richard Warren

    A boat dock is real property on Table Rock Lake, and I as the slip owner pay personal property tax on my slip. Does the slip owner have riparian rights, and can a slip owner build or install a storage locker of his choosing on the boat dock as long as it complys with teh Corp of Engineers guidlines? Do any restrictions apply in the construction as to size (height, width, depth) or materials used in the construction. Do dock associations have any rights or controls over your boat slip and dock area as to your use of that property?
    Thank you for your response.
    Richard Warren

    • Richard,
      I do not agree that a boat dock is real property at Table Rock Lake. At least for appraisal purposes, under Missouri statutes, it can be included with the real property. The concept of riparian rights has no application with respect to a lake owned by the United States and managed by the Corps of Engineers.

      The rights to install a storage locker on a community dock of Table Rock are governed by the dock association agreement and the regulations of the Corps pertaining to dock construction.

      The powers of the dock owners association are defined in the dock owners association’s governing documents. The dock owners agreement that the Corps gives to community boat dock applicants is very sketchy and does not address many of the issues that frequently arise concerning use of the dock and assessments for dock expenses. I have prepared more elaborate association documents for several associations.

    • Richard,
      As you yourself state, you pay “personal Property” taxes on your slip… The bottom line of the URAR form for an appraisal, asks the appraiser to state the value of the “real property”. Stone and Taney County in Missouri consider boat slips to be personal property. The Corp Of Engineer’s own the land surrounding the lake and they will not allow any type of permanent fixture. Docks must be floating. The county is not willing to give up the revenue to consider the boatslips “real estate”:.

  13. Boat docks are not merely practical for docking boats but can additionally be utilized for other activities. In some instances they are able to provide a decorative touch to a property that is large enough to include a lake or any other body of water. Once you are considering constructing a boat dock, your main concern should first be durability and then how it looks. A well built boat dock guarantees that you and any other user will not have to worry excessively about any minor or major accidents that may occur because of badly laid or rotting boards. Hence you should be careful during the process accurately measuring and putting down your boards. You should be able to accomplish this task if you have a basic understanding of carpentry and are fairly handy.

  14. My family rents a large boat slip at one of Table Rock’s Marinas. This year the dock has changed ownership and the new owners are now not only raising the rent but are telling slip renters that they have to pay taxes on their slip? How is this right? I don’t know anybody that owns rental houses that require their renters to pay taxes on the property; so how is this any different?

    • The obligation of the renter to pay tax is a typical feature of commercial leases of real estate and equipment. For residential leases, the portion of the rent representing taxes is not usually separately stated, but in most cases the landlord pays the taxes from the rent.

  15. what recourse does one have with people who refuse to pay community dock fees on Table Rock? but still use the electricity and swim platform…He bought the slip from previous owner but says he never joined our association and only will pay his % of expenses after WE pay them first. Since there is no profit in this community dock, we keep very little money in the account, and previously everyone pd an estimated rate, that is adjusted year-to-year as necessary. We have never had an association with rules/regs and he says he won’t join it if we form one… !!!!

    • The Corps of Engineers regulations make membership in a dock association mandatory; a community dock permit is issued to an association, so you have an association whether you know it or not. Unfortunately, most dock associations have very sketchy regulations, many of them using only the skeleton document that the Corps hands out, and many of them are unincorporated. You should ask a lawyer in the Table Rock Lake area to review your association’s governing documents and advise you on how to proceed. You probably need to get the slip owners to incorporate the association and adopt some better rules for budgeting and collection of expense assessments.

  16. Harry, so if I own a slip in a community dock on Table Rock Lake. Do I pay personal property taxes on that slip?

    • The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices (USPAP) which is the state and national standard that all state licensed and state certified real estate appraisers most adhere to defines personal property as:

      PERSONAL PROPERTY: identifiable tangible objects that are considered by the general public as being“personal” – for example, furnishings, artwork, antiques, gems and jewelry, collectibles, machinery and equipment; all tangible property that is not classified as real estate.

      The International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) further states personal property:

      Consists of every kind of property that is not real property; movable without damage to itself or the real estate; subdivided into tangible and intangible. (IAAO)

      The IAAO further defines tangible personal property as:

      TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY: Personal property that has a substantial physical presence beyond merely representational. It differs from real property in its capacity to be relocated. Common examples of tangible personal property are automobiles, boats, and jewelry. (IAAO)

      With respect to boat slips or watercraft slips, many of you may recall in July of 2010, HB 1692 was signed into law by Governor Nixon. Specifically, HB 1692 amended Chapter 339, Section 339.503 (13) to include the following definition:

      (13) “Boat slip” or “watercraft slip”, a defined area of water, including the riparian rights to use such area, whether by grant, lease, or license, in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations, which is a part of a boat dock serving a common interest community, including by way of example and not of limitation condominiums and villas; and the exclusive right to such use being allocated as a limited common element or being assigned to an owner of real estate in the common interest community in which the boat dock is located, whether by grant, lease, or otherwise. The rights of the real estate owner in such slip are included as collateral in any deed of trust and uniform commercial code filings of a lender, if any, taking a security interest in the owner’s real estate;

      Although the change in statute does not specifically define boat slips or watercraft slips as real property, the understood intent purpose for including this language in state statutes was to facilitate using of boat slips or watercraft slips as collateral for loans made on the real estate interests much in the same way that the defining of boat docks as real property in state statutes was intended to accomplish in the preceding year. While some may believe that this definition effectively classifies boat slips as real, such is not the the case.

      It does not appear that the interest in boat or watercraft slips has been clearly classified in definition as being real property as was previously done with respect to boat docks. The significance of this is that the inclusion of the value contribution of boat slips or watercraft slips that cannot be considered as real property for loans sold on the secondary market (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) since they do not meet the definitional criteria to be considered real property nor does it provide a criteria for boat slips to be considered real property for ad valorum property tax purposes. In addition to the implications for ad valorum property tax treatment, this has implications for both real estate appraisal purposes and lending purposes.

      With respect to the appraisal process, the Conduct section of the Ethics Rule of the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Standards (USPAP) states that appraisers “must not communicate assignment results with the intent to mislead or to defraud.” In addition, USPAP states that the appraiser must “identify the characteristics of the property that are relevant to the type and definition of value and intended use of the appraisal,” and, “any personal property, trade fixtures, or intangible items that are not real property but are included in the appraisal.”

      From the standpoint of valuation for lending purposes, most standard appraisal forms clearly state:

      “Based upon a complete visual inspection of the interior and exterior of the subject property (or in the case of exterior only Based upon an exterior inspection from the public street), defined scope of work, statement of assumptions and limiting conditions, and appraiser’s certification, my (our) opinion of market value, as defined, of the real property that is the subject of this report is $___________.”

      From this, it is abundantly clear that for appraisals prepared to conform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac standards, that the appraisal is limited to the valuation of the real property interest and that any personal property that may be considered should be valued separately and not included in this value. In a 2010 Fannie Mae Selling Guide announcement, they emphasized this by stating:

      “Treatment of Personal Property
      Lenders are reminded that personal property, including (but not limited to) furniture, vehicles, boats, floating boat docks, and art work, may not be included as additional security for any mortgage on a one-unit property unless otherwise specified by Fannie Mae. Personal property is permitted as part of the security for a loan on a two- to four-unit property to the extent it is pledged by the 1-4 Family Rider (Form 3170). Whether an item is real or personal property is generally determined by the law of the jurisdiction where the property is located. A professional appraiser who has the knowledge, experience, and geographical competence to complete the appraisal assignment must also possess the expertise to identify personal property items in the appraisal.”

      Consequently, it would likely be inappropriate and possibly misleading for appraisers to include the contribution of a boat slip or watercraft slip in the value conclusion. Similarly, with respect to the classification of boat slips or watercraft slips for ad valorem property tax purposes, the statute does not provide sufficient clarity to be appropriately considered as real property.

    • Under Missouri law, you are required to provide a list of all your personal property to the county assessor. The assessor will probably tax it.

  17. We own a home and property on a 1/2-mile road which ends at Table Rock Lake. There are 4 docks at the end of our street, all private … yet our house did not come with a dock. We are not allowed to enjoy use of the docks even for swimming from, yet we are required to pay a homeowner’s association fee for our sub-division which covers road maintenance. To the best of my knowledge the dock/slip owners pay nothing towards maintenance of the road yet use it constantly. Our shoreline is also rocky and the road just ends and has no public access ramp to the lake. Do we have any recourse in forcing use of the dock by property owners, OR requiring the dock association/ slip owners to contribute to road maintenance ? Your article says the docks are “property” of the Corp of Engineers, so is it legal for the slip owners to keep us off?

    • Sheila,
      The regulations of the Corps of Engineers prohibit anyone to be on community boat docks other than the slip owners (registered with the Corps) and their guests.

      The rights and obligations concerning roads around Table Rock Lake is complicated. Some roads were there before the lake and are public roads, even though a subdivision has been built along the old road. Corps regulations require applicants for construction of community boat dock to provide evidence that there is lawful access to a dock parking area.

      Forcing people to share in the cost of maintaining a road is almost impossible.

    • Thank you for answering!

  18. Nothing but corruption on this lake. Local politicians, dnr, health department and court tax clerks rake in Billions of tax payers money, I own lake front property and a boat slip. The core of engineers confiscated land and harass people on the lake. The water patrol and state troopers are now working together to harass people on the lake. THe core and Gov Jay Nixon have created a billion dollar money making tax scam. This pays for outragious slaries for state and federal workers.

    Tax payers who own lake front property should file a federal law suit and get back their land.

    Robert Gipson


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  20. H.S. I think my husband and I represent a large portion of the home owners at Lake of the Ozarks, being that we are middle aged, have dreamed and saved a long time for our home, but were mostly ignorant of the responsibilities of the Realtor we bought our home from. In our case, we bought our home approx. 5 years ago and our Realtor led us through the process of the dock permits and all was great, until Ameren’s aerial pictures tagged our dock at the first part of this year.

    • I have deleted most of your comment because it reveals information that should be between you and your attorney.

      I wish to point out of a couple of things in the remaining part of your comment. You use the term “our Realtor.” Unless the Realtor assisting you in the purchase signed a buyer’s agency agreement with you, the Realtor was not “yours” but either a dual agent, a transaction agent or the seller’s agent.

      Second, you expect the Realtor to anticipate that Ameren would tag your dock four years before it happened. Lake of the Ozarks is privately owned and regulated by the Corps of Engineers and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. You do not mention seeking the advice of a lawyer in the Lake of the Ozarks area, but relied on a commissioned salesperson to be your legal advisor.

  21. Harry, our Tablerock lake community dock has been loosely organized to date, but is in process of incorporating for “operation and maintenance” reasons. Some newer slip owners are pushing for a “Right of first Refusal” for subsequent sale of a slip. The language they want to inact is being proposed in order to ensure that no dock member can sell a slip to anyone other than to someone else who already owns one slip. Emphasis on “already owns”. That way they ensure that no outsiders are ever able to get in. This appears to me that it would/will run off potential outside buyers, depress and /or fix the sale price of slips as governed by Right of refusal language. Is this even legal? It reeks to me of selfishness, control, and manipulation of valid property rights. Slip owners in the past have always been free to buy or sell but never have been “restricted” by language that would inhibit owners freedom to sell to whom they choose. I also own both improved and unimproved lots in the sub division.

    Signed, confused and don’t want to sign up for it

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  23. Mary Beth Bowling

    We own a slip in a community boat dock on Table Rock Lake. We are thinking about purchasing a swim platform with 3 others that own slips in this same boat dock but storing the platform in our slip. Would I be liable for anything if someone was injured while the swim platform was in my slip? Could any of the owners of the swim platform be at sued if someone who did not own the platform used it and was hurt? Is placing a sign on the platform like”use at your own risk” or “stay off platform, for owners only” be enough to keep us from being sued? Thank you!

    • You should assume that you will be responsible to others who use the platform. You need to make sure that you have liability insurance coverage.

  24. Does a person have the right to have people removed if they are “trespassing” on “private property” (a boat dock)? May strangers come onto a dock and spread themselves out to sunbathe, fish, party, or whatever else they choose to do without any repercussions? Where does it say we have to allow strangers to tie up and use our dock for whatever they want? Water patrol says there’s nothing they can do about removing them.

    • I of course have no idea of whether your dock is on a private lake, a county lake, a federal lake governed by one of several possible federal agencies, or which state you are in. You need to consult a local attorney. I don’t know if your dock is a community dock or a private dock.

      Your best bet is to talk to the county sheriff’s department. But I doubt if your problem will be seen as a priority.

  25. Mark Armstrong

    Does a person have a right to use a private dock (as a swimming platform) that is attached to his property by cables and power line (that is attached to a power pole in the middle of his back yard)? The private dock is on Table Rock Lake and he does not own a slip in the dock, but the dock does have swimming steps.

  26. Stephen J. Doroghazi, Jr.

    Thank you for keeping this blog. Helpful with my research. How is a Boat Dock transferred or distributed to the new owner from the prior (now deceased) owner? Still looking for a simple answer…..just joking….looks like this area of the law is evolving, without any direction from the Courts.

    • Stephen, you are welcome. It is the job of the legislatures, not the courts, to establish law concerning boat docks. Boat slips and private boat docks pass from decedent’s estates like any other personal property.

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