In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can I live in a tent on my own land? We will also discuss whether it is legal to live in a caravan or RV on your own land and what the law has to say about it.
Can I live in a tent on my own land?
Even if you own the land, you cannot legally live in a tent. In the eyes of the law, living full-time in such conditions is equal to sleeping in a car in a parking lot, thus, you are considered homeless.
To be able to live in a tent, caravan or RV on your land, you will have to meet the minimum criteria:
- Have full-time access to a bathroom with running water, cooking facilities and a sleeping space.
- The land that you are living is on is either legally owned or leased by the person for 30 days or more.
- The living space is connected to the mandatory utilities (sewer, trash, electricity, water, internet, etc) – which is almost impossible when you are living in a tent.
You will probably be fine with sleeping a few nights in a tent on your own land if you want to experience the complete camping experience, but don’t make it permanently, or you could be fined.
Moreover, if there are beyond six tents and 20 campers on your land, you must ask your town hall for a planning permit.
Can I live in a caravan on my own land?
You cannot live in a static caravan on private land as part of a real estate investment project on a property that belongs to you. Likewise, it will be impossible for you to set up your static caravan on land that you have inherited by succession.
On the other hand, you can absolutely buy (or rent!) a mobile home directly from a campsite, a holiday village or a residential park. You will be happy to go there on your vacation!
You can live in a mobile home on private land if it is considered a caravan. The respective legal definitions of the mobile home (static caravan) and the caravan are very similar.
The difference between these two habitable vehicles: unlike the mobile home, the caravan can move by itself and it is authorized to circulate. When buying your mobile vehicle, therefore, pay attention to its category! If it can circulate independently, it will be considered a caravan, in which case the rules are more flexible.
Can I live in a caravan in my back garden?
You can live in a caravan in your garden as long as the vehicle is considered an annexe to the house or is used for the extra space. The law states the following:
- If someone lives in a caravan in your garden for less than 3 months per year: You can install your caravan in your garden without authorization if you are not using it as a home or as an annexe to your home. The caravan must permanently retain its means of mobility (wheels, drawbar, etc.) in order to be able to leave its location at any time.
- If someone lives in a caravan in your garden for more than 3 months per year: The installation of your caravan in your garden is subject to a prior declaration to be submitted to the town hall. Please note that the local council may refuse your request.
- The installation of a static caravan in your garden is strictly prohibited, whatever the duration of installation envisaged.
Please note that local town planning rules may impose specific restrictions in the event of installation for less than 3 months. Remember to consult the town planning department of your town hall.
Is it illegal to live in a tent, caravan or RV?
The answer is that it is NOT illegal to live in a tent, caravan or RV. However, that doesn’t mean you can park the recreational vehicle anywhere you want or that you can reside in a tent or caravan full-time. Even if you own the land, there are sometimes local ordinances against living in a motorhome within city limits or county-wide limits.
A few years ago HUD (United States Department of Urban Housing Development) regulations made many permanent RVers uncomfortable and there was an explosion of posts that HUD was making it illegal to live permanently in such a structure.
This news brought a lot of stress to those who already lived with this lifestyle and to those who had the dream of starting a small house or an RV where they would live full time.
HUD changed some of the definition in its regulations, but the reality was that prior to this 2016 update of HUD’s rules, it was already illegal to live in an RV. HUD regulations state that the RV design is for recreational use and not as a primary home for continuous occupancy.
So why did they have to redefine the regulations? The popularity of RVs and tiny home life had many cities dealing with the influx of RVs and miniature houses on wheels on private property with people living in them permanently. And that is where the conflict is, private properties where there are ordinances that prohibit these mobile homes as permanent housing.
But of course, there are designated RV campgrounds and mobile home parks that meet all required zoning standards almost everywhere. These are available as rentals and as lots that you can buy.
Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people throughout the United States and Canada live full time in RVs. Mostly, retirees follow the weather year-round, the southern parts of the US in winter, heading north when the summer heats up.
Generally speaking, it is completely legal to live in a mobile home, except in places that have already been mentioned where there is a particular ordinance.
The bottom line
We remind you that if you are living permanently in a tent on your own land, in the eyes of the law, you are a homeless person. Currently, in the US, you cannot reside full time in a tent, caravan or motorhome.
You have to comply with the HOA and HUD laws when it comes to living in a different type of dwelling.
If you have any questions or comments about the content, please let us know.
FAQ on Can I live in a tent on my own land?
Can I live in a caravan on my land?
You can live in a caravan on your land, but there are a few rules to follow. Caravans and motorhomes can remain on the grounds of a primary residence, but only between uses. They must in no case lose their mobile nature, otherwise, they will be considered as a fixed installation by the municipality.
Can I put a caravan in my garden?
You can install your caravan in your garden without authorization if you are not using it as a home or as an annexe to your home. The caravan must permanently retain its means of mobility (wheels, drawbar, etc.) in order to be able to leave its location at any time.
Can I put a trailer on my land?
To put a trailer on one’s land, the owner of a trailer must have the mayor’s parking authorization to install his trailer on his land. If the trailer is fixed, a building permit is required.
How to live on non-building land?
It is not allowed to live year-round on any non-building land. You can set up a tent or request authorization from the town hall for your caravan or mobile home.