As others have said, you need to read the contract. It's possible that the property owner (hotel?) legally separated the marina from the rest of the property and sold
the slips in condominium form. (Some people call this a "dockominium" but that's typically not a legal term.) If this was done your should have received a document called a Declaration of Condominium as well as a set of ByLaws and the Articles of Incorporation. These docs set out the legal form of ownership
as well as the rules and regulations
you agreed to at the time of purchase
, how expenses will be shared, your voting rights, etc. If the marina is in condominium form, you probably own your slip outright as a separate piece of "property" but also own an undivided percentage of the common property (aka common elements). That might be the docks, sidewalks, power pedestals, bathhouse, road, parking areas, etc. You'll also be on the hook for a share of the common expenses, the cost to maintain the common elements. You're also on the hook for any property taxes
assessed by the state/municipality on your property (your slip). This is all spelled out in the documents. I'm not familiar with NC law, but the state has a statute that controls condominiums, Chapter 47C. On the other hand, if they set it up as an HOA (Homeowners Association), it's governed by a different set of documents that your should have received and is regulated by Chapter 47F of the NC statutes. HOA's are generally similar to Condominiums although there are often significant differences in terms of your rights and obligations. The statutes usually state how often meetings of the owners and/or board of directors must be held, how reserve funding
for major repairs
must be assessed and held, how board members are elected and how long they serve, how to remove board members, the rights and responsibilities of members (property owners), etc. Some key things you might want to know is who owns the pilings and finger piers and power pedestals, who pays for them if they get damaged or need repair, how much liability insurance
you're required to have, whether you own the bottom of your slip or whether it's leased from the state, what your parking rights are (assigned parking, number of vehicles allowed), whether you can make improvements to your slip (such as dock
boxes, taller pilings, upgraded electrical
, etc.), and whether live-aboards are allowed (may be a state or local regulation).
Irrespective of how your marina was legally organized, you should read the documents carefully and consult an attorney familiar with common ownership
property in your state if you don't understand what you've bought in to.
As to whether they are scamming you out of money or not, everything you are obligated to pay should be spelled out in the documents you received or in the applicable statute.
With respect to your electricity it sounds like you have what's called a sub-meter. This is a meter that measures electricity to your slip but is not read by the utility company. Whoever owns the main meter is responsible for paying the electric
bill and then they subsequently bill you for the portion of the total that your sub-meter shows you used. Whether they can mark up the cost of your electricity above what they are charged per kilowatt is generally regulated by the state. All you have to do is call the utility company and ask them if it's allowed. In many (most?) states the meter owner is not allowed to mark up sub-metered electricity, i.e., they can't sell you electricity at a profit. Generally they have to take the total electric
bill and divide by the total kilowatts used to get a cost per kilowatt. They then multiply this cost per kilowatt by the number of kilowatts your submeter shows you used and that's your electric bill. But, depending on the state, they may be allowed to add and administrative fee on top of that, such as the 1.5% you say they're adding to yours. Check with your utility company to see if this is allowed, or ask an attorney familiar with the law regarding common ownership of property.
Like owning any other piece of real estate, owning a boat
slip may or may not be a good deal. If the form of ownership was organized properly per the state statutes and if the association has a consciencious board of directors who fairly represent the owners (vs a bunch of condo Nazi's who force everybody to do things their way with lots of onerous rules and regulations), then you're probably OK. The advantage of owning your slip vs renting
is the same as owning a house vs renting
an apartment. The value of the slip might appreciate, you won't face rent increases (although common expenses can/will go up with inflation), and you can have a say in how the marina is managed. And they can't kick you out because they don't like you or want to rent your slip to someone willing to pay more. On the other hand, you'll be responsible for the cost of maintenance
, usually have to maintain liability insurance
, have to pay property taxes
, and can lose money if the value goes down or the marina is destroyed in a storm (most can't afford the insurance needed to rebuild
after a loss). You pays your money and you takes your chances!