Is Your Tiny House Violating Zoning Laws?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 13, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There is a common misconception among some property owners that once you buy the land, you can do whatever you want with it. Those property owners often find local, state, and federal zoning laws a rude awakening.

Even those people trying to live as off-the-grid or low-impact as possible may find zoning laws in their way. The tiny house movement, a whole lot of hipsters and environmentalists trying to live within very little spaces, is running into its own zoning problems. So if you're dreaming of living simply inside of 500 square feet, do some research first, before local zoning laws give you a reality check.

Tiny Home Ownership

As we noted above, just because you own the land doesn't necessarily mean you can build whatever you want on it. Local and state zoning ordinances can restrict the number of structures allowed on a residential lot, no matter what size they are, and many may not allow full-time living in temporary structures like recreational vehicles or movable tiny houses. And if you're building your tiny house, you'll need to acquire the proper permits and adhere to relevant building codes.

In addition, your property may be part of a homeowner's association, subject to HOA agreements and other covenants that can restrict the kinds of structures you can build or maintain on your property. Violating HOA rules and regulations can get you sued or even evicted.

Renting Small Real Estate

And that's just if you own the land underneath your tiny home. If not, you could find it difficult to secure a legal location to live. If you're renting property, you'll want to check your lease agreement to see if there are any limitations on putting additional structures on the land, even if they're temporary.

Even if you're just looking for a place to park a tiny home on wheels, zoning issues could come up. RV parks generally have a limit on how long you can stay, national or state parks have limitations on the kind of trailers that are allowed and how long they can remain in the park, and street parking comes with its own parking ordinances to worry about.

You may be considering a move to a tiny house to simplify your life, but acquiring, moving, and building your home may not be as easy as you think. Consult with an experienced real estate attorney in your area who can inform you about all the potential legal pitfalls to living in a tiny house.

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