AOT: Constraints and advantages of owning its premises on the public domain

To be as close as possible to the boats to save time and energy, is a goal of nautical professionals. This often means owning technical and commercial premises in the port area under cover of an AOT, a situation that is not without constraints, explains Gwenaël Rambaud, head of Gwen Marine Service in Les Sables-dOlonne.

AOT: Authorisation for Temporary Occupation

The Authorisation for Temporary Occupation (AOT) of the public domain in the administrative language is defined by articles L. 2122-6 and L. 2122-9 of the code of the property of public persons. The AOT allows the State to grant a third party a real right on its domain in order for the latter to build a work that it operates or that it rents to the State.

At the end of the occupancy permit for a maximum period of 50 years, any works whatsoever on the occupied outbuilding must be demolished, either by the holder of the permit or at his own expense, unless their maintenance in the state in which they are located has been expressly provided for in the occupancy permit or unless the competent authority waives all or part of their demolition.

The works which have been accepted for maintenance at the end of the occupancy title shall become the property of the State as of right and free of charge.

Since the decentralisation of 1983 in metropolitan France, the local authorities: municipalities, departments or regions have been distributing and managing the AOTs in terms of the creation, operation and development of marinas, fishing and commercial harbours.


Ensuring the renewal of its AOT is a priority

Gwenaël Rambaud, head of Gwen Marine Service in Les Sables-d'Olonne, shared with us the general questioning on the advantages and disadvantages of being a tenant in the public domain :

" In Les Sables-d'Olonne, Port Olona 2, is home to the main technical and commercial players in local nautical activities. Each of these professionals has its own building built on the public domain, and each AOT is of a different duration.

Some operators whose AOT expires have no certainty of renewal. However, for these players, it seems that the will of the local authorities of Sablaise and Vendée consists in creating a huge showroom similar to the car in order to highlight the know-how of the Vendée boatyards. Unfortunately the attendance of boat shops is low and does not have the level of visit of a car showroom. You don't sell a boat every day", says the manager. These few words reflect the uncertainty of the profitability of the showroom project.


Ensuring a return on investment

Since 2018, Gwenaël has been working with an architectural firm on a project to make his building more functional and to embellish the façade. However, Gwen Marine Service's AOT ends in February 2021 thanks to a one-year postponement granted by the municipality following the presentation of its project.

Even if his rent is very moderate, it seems illogical to go into a loss-making investment. It is impossible to project oneself without the certainty that one's activity will remain housed in the current premises. Like any business owner, entering into investment financing requires a serene long-term vision, if only to be able to rely on banks.


Guaranteed occupancy time

At each election deadline, the elected officials change and make the conditions of the AOTs evolve. "They ask us to revitalise the nautical industry, to put forward quality and even luxury in some cases, how can we stay the course with such political dependence", insists Gwenaël who concludes: "It is necessary that that evolves and give to the companies a longer vision to allow them to launch investments and reassure the banks, 30 years seems a reasonable length of time to be freed from the political risks".


To help get through the crisis

On April 23, 2020, the Federation of Nautical Industries announced the suspension of royalty payments to AOTs for companies in difficulty.