Is it Legal to Live in a Camper in Your Backyard?

Backyard Camper

Most people living in the United States assume that if they own a home or a piece of land, that they can do what they want on the property. However, that is not always the case and there are some very strict regulations about what people can or cannot do on residential property. One thing that people may wonder is if they can live in a camper in their backyard. Here is an overview of the general rules that apply to living in a camper on private property.

Why Might You Want to Live in a Camper in Your Backyard?

Some people need to live temporarily in a camper in their backyard. For example, if there is major structural work or renovations taking place in their property, it is sometimes necessary to live elsewhere while the work is underway, and an RV in the backyard can make a good solution in the short-term. You might also have a member of the family that needs to live in your backyard. If you have a large family and an older child or your parent wants to live with you or needs their own space, then you might consider having the living in the backyard.

Can You Live Permanently in an RV in a Backyard?

It may surprise you to learn that in most circumstances, it is illegal to live in your own backyard in an RV. In most cases, living in an RV permanently is not allowed, says Halt. Once, both mobile homes and RVs were considered unfit for full-time habitation. However, RVs have now taken a different route to mobile homes. While mobile homes are more often than not now manufactured houses that are moved and set in position for permanent living, RVs are still considered a vehicle. According to regulations set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an RV has only recreational, travel, and camping purposes. In the eyes of the law, it is not an abode that meets the basic standards of living, even if it does have water, electricity, and plumbing.

The restrictions on how long it is acceptable to live in an RV on private land vary from one place to another and between living zones. In many places, 30 days is considered the maximum amount of time that you can live permanently in a camper, but this is something that you should check before moving into an RV. You might also wonder what happens if you break these regulations. This really depends on whether you are noticed and on the regulations in the area. If you are parked on a private backyard in a rural area, then nobody may realize that you are even there, so nobody may notify officials. On the other hand, in a built-up area, you are more noticeable, and you could find yourself in hot water very quickly. In most cases, they will forbid you from continuing to live in the camper and you will receive a large fine.

Urban Restrictions

Alex Addict says that the rules are very different in urban and rural areas, so it is essential to check the zoning laws. Rules are generally stricter in urban areas, and some towns or cities do not even allow residents to park a vacant camper next to a residential property. Those that do allow people to live temporarily in a camper in their backyard apply strict regulation in terms of standards of living and time limits.

Rural Restrictions

Often, the rules are somewhat more relaxed in rural settings than they are in urban areas. You can usually live for a set period of time on private land, such as the backyard of your property. In some rural settings, you can even live for extended periods in a camper, providing that you meet certain regulations and you apply for the relevant permits. These relate to the location of the camper, and the amenities that are available to give you a reasonable standard of living. These regulations vary significantly in different areas, so it is essential to check before making your plans, says Camper Smarts.

How to Live Permanently in a Camper

If you are determined to live in a camper permanently, then a backyard is not the best choice of location due to the legal restrictions. There are two options for permanent camper living. The first is to live a transient lifestyle moving from one location to another. The second option is to buy deeds for a plot on an RV park with permits. Then you can reside in your RV permanently in one location.

Getting Around the Rules

Some people only want to live in a camper in their backyard temporarily, such as while work is ongoing in their home. It is possible that you may need to live in the camper longer than the regulations allow, such as when building work overruns and you cannot move back into your home. There are several options for you to get around these rules. First, if part of the house is habitable enough to live in for a few days, then return to the house temporarily before beginning a new stretch in your camper. Another option is to park somewhere else for a weekend before returning to your position in the backyard. Finally, you can speak to the authorities explaining your situation. If you only need to stay a little longer than the permitted period, some authorities are lenient or will help you to find a solution to the problem.

Living in a Camper in Your Backyard – The Final Verdict

Although living in a camper in your backyard can make a great temporary living solution, it is not a permanent option. It is illegal to live in a camper in your backyard permanently. How long you can live in a camper varies in different zones, so it is essential to check before deciding to live temporarily in your camper.


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