Consumer Protection

What is the process for buying a used boat?
You may find helpful tips in the How to Buy a Used Boat booklet published by the Division of Boating and Waterways located on the Division’s Web site at: http://www.dbw.parks.ca.gov/Pubs/UsedBoat/index.htm. You may want to consider using a licensed broker to assist you finding the boat of your dreams.  The law requires licensure for any person, for compensation, who sells used boats in the state of California that they do not own, that is more than 16’ and under 300 gross tons. There are few exceptions to this law that can be found in the Harbors and Navigation Code, section 710 (http://dbw.parks.ca.gov/LawsRegs/).

What are the benefits of utilizing a licensed broker?
Licensed brokers must be bonded, fingerprinted and posses a working knowledge and understanding of the principles of the yacht brokerage business and profession before licensure. Licensees also have instant access to statewide, national and even international networks of boat owners and brokers with boats to sell.  Lastly, the Division has regulatory oversight of the licensees to ensure compliance with consumer protection laws.  The Division encourages consumers to make smart choices by selecting brokers that are licensed in the State of California.

How will I know if a broker and or salesperson are licensed?
Every broker’s license shall be prominently displayed in the broker’s principal office and every salesperson’s license shall be prominently displayed in the broker’s principal office or branch office in which the business of such salesman is transacted.  You can also obtain a list from the Division’s website at: http://www.dbw.parks.ca.gov/Yns/YnSbrokers_dir.aspx.

How can I find out if there has been any disciplinary action taken against a broker?
You can check the Division’s website for current violations at http://www.dbw.parks.ca.gov/Yns/YachtViolations.aspx or contact the Yacht & Ship enforcement unit at (916) 327-1839.

What is the difference between an exclusive listing and an open listing agreement?
An exclusive listing is a written agreement between the owner of the vessel and a broker, which provides that the commission is due the broker named in the contract, if the boat is sold, traded, or exchanged within the time limit which must be specified in the contract.  Make sure you do not have any open listing agreements at the time you sign an exclusive listing agreement.

An open listing is a written agreement between the owner of a vessel and a broker which authorizes the broker to negotiate the sale, trade, or exchange of the vessel, but reserves to the owner the right, without incurring a liability for the payment of a commission to said broker, to negotiate the sale, trade, or exchange of said vessel himself, or to enter into open listing agreements with other brokers respecting said vessel.  Make sure you do not have any exclusive listing agreements at the time you sign an open listing agreement.

What are the law sections that govern California Brokers?
Harbors and Navigation Code section 700 through 754 and California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Division 4, Chapter 1, Article 8, section 7601 through 7623 (http://www.dbw.parks.ca.gov/LawsRegs/).

How do I file a complaint against a broker?
You can find the complaint form and instructions on the Division’s Web site at http://www.dbw.parks.ca.gov/Yns/YnSBComplaint.aspx or you may contact the Yacht & Ship Enforcement Unit at (916) 327-1839 or (916) 327-1838.