Is It Legal to Live in a Camper in Your Backyard?
Did you know over 1 million Americans live their day-to-day lives in a 250-square-foot trailer, where the kitchen, living room, dining room, and bedroom are all in one place?
This might sound like a nightmare to some, but to these Americans, this is a way of redefining the American dream. It allows for more freedom since an RV allows them to travel and live in a different location when they feel like it.
However, some only want to live in an RV yet don’t want to leave their property. Following this comes the question, “can I live in an RV on my own property?”
Although it’s your property and your RV, you have to take note of the different laws to avoid legal trouble. Is it legal to live in a camper in your backyard? Find out below.
1. Is It Legal to Live in a Camper in Your Backyard?
That’s both a yes and no, parking and living in an RV on your own land is not illegal. If you’re planning to live in it full-time, though, you’ll likely be breaking the law. Even if you own the land, there are laws prohibiting you from using it as a permanent house.
This means that if you move your RV around and park it where acceptable, you can bypass these laws. In some places, especially in rural areas, law enforcers aren’t that strict at implementing this law.
This is why you’ll see many people living in campers full-time. Still, only one complaint from a neighbor can make then move out of their residence.
What makes it illegal, anyway?
The problem here is the government – it doesn’t classify RVs as permanent dwellings. An RV is a descendant of the mobile home, alongside manufactured housing. It took a different route, though, and now it’s more of a vehicle than a home.
As per the Department of Housing and Urban Development, RVs only have recreational, travel, or camping purposes. On the other hand, they treat manufactured housing as a permanent residence.
For this reason, it has always been illegal to live in it full-time. That is even though your RV meets the standard requirements of manufactured housing. Even if you have electricity, plumbing, and other necessities in place, it’s not fit for living in the eyes of the law.
2. What You Can Do with Your RV in Your Backyard
There’s no federal law prohibiting you from parking your RV in your backyard, but you may have to check with the HOA and the local regulations regarding parking an RV, camper, or a motorhome in your land.
Some cities have requirements to keep it away from view, while some only allow you to park it overnight. You may have to park your RV elsewhere if your area doesn’t allow you to keep it in your own land.
If they do, you might want to use the RV as a guest house instead. Friends and relatives coming from another city or state can stay over while visiting you. Note, however, that people will only be able to sleep there for weeks at most.
There’s also no law prohibiting you from using it on occasion. Even if you can’t live there, it can still serve as an extension of your house. You or any guest staying there will have to enter your house to use the utilities, though.
3. How to Live in an RV in Your Own Land
You may have to sell your motorhome, which you can learn more about and read more here, if you can’t work out a way to keep it and live in it. If living in an RV is your dream, though, and you don’t want to let the law get in the way, you may have to move somewhere else. Here are what to consider if you want to live full-time in a camper.
Check the State and Local Laws
Some state and counties may permit you to live in an RV full-time, although you may have to move and purchase a plot of land in the places that allow you to do so. Check out Mobile Home Parks and such where you can buy a plot of land for this purpose. Some areas will allow you to park there long-term as long as you move the RV a couple of times for a couple of days.
These areas will already have utilities in place, so you won’t have to worry about installing electricity, water, and such on your RV. You’ll live in a community, and you’ll have neighbors who can help you if needed.
Find a Nice Location
If you find a city or state allowing you to buy land for this purpose, the next step is to find a nice location. Often, people will choose a secluded area to live a different life than the one they’ve lived before. However, this poses some risks and challenges that people don’t overcome with ease.
An RV is less secure than a house, which might make it a prime target for thieves when you’re out to buy some supplies. If your land is far from other neighbors, this makes it an even better target.
Due to these safety risks, you’re better off finding land that’s near a town. This can allow you to live a secluded lifestyle while enjoying the benefits of a community. Furthermore, this will ensure you get some basic services.
Take Care of the Utilities
A good location isn’t only good for development, but it also should provide you access to the basic necessities. Before purchasing the land, you must make sure first that you have access to cellphone and internet services.
Electricity should be able to run across your land. Otherwise, your neighbor must give you written permission to let it run across theirs.
Make sure you have the rights to the water on your land, and it must be potable. It should also be able to hold a septic tank. There should be entry roads, as well, and they should be on your property.
Learn More About Federal and State laws
Is it legal to live in a camper in your backyard? While the answer is not as simple as yes or no, you should now have a basic idea of what to do to be able to live in your RV without legal repercussions.
You also have to consider zoning and real estate laws, which can get pretty complicated. Check out our guide here to learn more about them and what you can do.