Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Buy-to-Let Houseboat Is All Terror and No Firmer; Victoria Whitlock Pipes Herself aboard a Business Prospect on the Orwell Estuary, despite Captain Sensible's Protests the Accidental Landlord

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Buy-to-Let Houseboat Is All Terror and No Firmer; Victoria Whitlock Pipes Herself aboard a Business Prospect on the Orwell Estuary, despite Captain Sensible's Protests the Accidental Landlord

Article excerpt

Byline: Victoria Whitlock

ON A weekend break in Suffolk, while wandering along a woodland path that runs next to the Orwell Estuary, I stumble across an empty houseboat for sale, asking price [pounds sterling]85,000. Excited, I march down the rickety gangplank on to the deck. "This would be a fantastic buy-to-let," I shout to my more sensible other half, who is pretending not to notice my diversion from the footpath.

The kids race down the plank after me, which leaves their dad no option but to follow. When he arrives on deck he points out it's less of a houseboat, more of shipwreck. This is true. It is in fact the shell of a scruffy old Thames barge in need of a total refurb. It has mains water, electricity and a phone line (according to the For Sale board) but that's where the mod cons end.

However, it is moored in a great location, at a gorgeous riverside hamlet not far from the fashionable seaside town of Southwold, otherwise known as Islington-On-Sea.

I tell Captain Sensible that we could branch out into holiday lettings. Even the pokiest cottage in Southwold rents for about a grand a week during the summer holidays -- and even at that price, they're fully booked long before the schools break up.

My other half is super-skilled at pointing out the absolutely bleeding obvious, which in this case is that we haven't a clue how to renovate a houseboat. I've fallen in love with the idea of a riverside property though, so I start to hunt for a modernised vessel.

On the internet I spot a converted French trawler, moored not far from my wreck, for sale at just a shade above [pounds sterling]60,000. It's only a twominute walk from Woodbridge station, says the ad, from where there are trains to London. Looking online, I see houseboat owners are letting houseboats like this one for as much [pounds sterling]875 a week. …

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