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Couples 'paid £2m for worthless houseboats near Hampton Court Palace'

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 6 days ago Tristan Kirk

<span style="color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">The houseboat's luxury living room</span> © Provided by Independent Print Limited The houseboat's luxury living room Two couples who paid more than £2 million for luxury houseboats near Hampton Court Palace were left with a sinking feeling when they turned out to be “worthless”, the High Court heard.

Oliver and Jennifer Small and Fiona Johnstone and Louis Sydney claim that they were missold the vessels by entrepreneur Myck Djurberg.

They believed they would be permanent residents on the Hampton Riviera — only to discover that the boats had neither a 125-year mooring licence nor planning permission, the court was told.

Mr Djurberg is fighting the claims for damages, insisting he never promised licences and that the couples knew they would have agree planning permission with the council themselves. 

<div class="dnd-widget-wrapper context-sdl_editor_representation type-image" style="box-sizing:border-box;margin:0px 0px 20px;padding:0px;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:medium;"><div class="dnd-caption-wrapper" style="box-sizing:border-box;margin:0px;padding:6px 0px 20px;font-size:14px;line-height:18px;color:#888888;">The houseboat's luxury living room</div><div></div></div> © Provided by Independent Print Limited
The houseboat's luxury living room
Adam Rosenthal, representing the couples, told the court: “Without the ability to moor at Hampton Riviera — whether because of the absence of a licence or because such mooring is unlawful — the boats were and are worthless.”

<span style="color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">Mr and Mrs Small bought their 5,000 sq ft houseboat called&nbsp;</span><span class="scayt-misspell-word" data-scayt-lang="en_GB" data-scayt-word="Willowbank" style="box-sizing:border-box;margin:0px;padding:0px;color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">Willowbank</span><span style="color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">&nbsp;for &pound;1.25 million</span> © Provided by Independent Print Limited Mr and Mrs Small bought their 5,000 sq ft houseboat called Willowbank for £1.25 million Mr and Mrs Small bought their 5,000 sq ft houseboat called Willowbank for £1.25 million

Mr and Mrs Small bought their 5,000 sq ft houseboat called Willowbank for £1.25 million, hoping to create “a fantastic home in a great location”.

They say Mr Djurberg told them about his “big plans” for the marina, including a swimming pool, boats, a gym and gardens, at a meeting in December 2012.

<span style="color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">Hampton Riviera where the couples believed the boats were to be moored</span> © Provided by Independent Print Limited Hampton Riviera where the couples believed the boats were to be moored He also showed them the dry dock at Hampton Riviera where they believed their boat would be sited, the court heard. “The Smalls’ evidence is that Mr Djurberg was selling them a permanent residence at Hampton Riviera,” added Mr Rosenthal.

Giving evidence, Mr Small, 42, said Mr Djurberg had told them they would be part of a “dream residential community”. “Part of the dream we were sold was him building us a home and finding four houseboat residents as one community,” the IT consultant told the court.

<span style="color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">Troubled waters: Oliver Small</span> © Provided by Independent Print Limited Troubled waters: Oliver Small But he said they were instead forced to put the boat into storage because they could not find an alternative mooring on the river, and the size of the vessel meant it could not go far as it does not fit under bridges.

Ms Johnstone said she and her partner moved into their houseboat with their teenage son and a piano in 2015 — having agreed an £850,000 purchase price.

<span style="color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">Fiona Johnston also claims she was&nbsp;</span><span class="scayt-misspell-word" data-scayt-lang="en_GB" data-scayt-word="mis-sold" style="box-sizing:border-box;margin:0px;padding:0px;color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">mis-sold</span><span style="color:#888888;font-family:'Fira Sans', Helvetica, Arial;font-size:14px;">&nbsp;a vessel</span> © Provided by Independent Print Limited Fiona Johnston also claims she was mis-sold a vessel She said they were “traumatised” when they realised they had no permanent right to live at the marina and that “we’d been sold something that didn’t exist”.

The boat was later repossessed and sold on by Mr Djurberg. He insists the couple moved in without his permission as most of the purchase price was still outstanding. He also claims he is owed mooring fees by the Smalls.

The hearing, before Judge Murray Rosen QC, continues.

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