Once a hobby of the rich, houseboats are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to landlocked property. London waterways alone have seen a 50pc increase in boat numbers over the past five years, official figures suggest.

Almost 33,000 people operate a houseboat on Britain’s waterways, up 9pc on last year, a number that has been creeping upwards over the past decade, according to boat licence data collected by the Canal River Trust.

The biggest increase is among so-called “roving” houseboats, the charity said, where owners don’t buy a fixed mooring but can remain in almost any location for two weeks before they must move on.

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Ms Dundovic and Mr Spragg, who rent their boat, get a similar discount for living in an area where rent costs upwards of £1,500 for a studio flat.

They admit their boat “isn’t the most glamorous on the water – but we’ve seen a lot worse”.

Run-down, damp and lacking any plumbing or power, many of Britain’s houseboats are a far cry from the idyll of Taggs Island. “Some of the boats we viewed as prospective renters were absolutely horrendous,” Ms Dundovic said. “One didn’t have a bedroom or lavatory and had two planks of wood instead of a seating area.”

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Originally posted 2016-10-28 05:28:19.

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