How to live in a tiny house without breaking the law

Photo Credit: Realtor

More people are building tiny homes these days, and small house living is very popular. It's very appealing to live in a smaller home with lower monthly expenses and with fewer things, but what most people forget about is the zoning and building restrictions. So if you're considering building a tiny house, it's wise to understand the ins and outs of living in a tiny house on wheels while respecting the laws in place in your area. There is still a lot of grey area when it comes to tiny houses on wheels and small house living. Some people consider these tiny houses to be recreational vehicles which puts them in that category, while others consider them to be accessory dwelling units which puts them in another category. There are some issues with building, planning and zoning when it comes to tiny houses and Realtor website goes over some of them with us to make sure that we are aware of the realities of small house living. Most of these tiny houses on wheels are under 400 square feet, and there are also tiny houses built on foundations which can be a bit larger.

In order to legally live in your home as a full-time residence, it usually has to be over 400 square feet in most places. Also, since tiny houses on wheels are usually considered to fall under the category of RVs, it's harder to get them approved for residential status. Tiny houses build on foundations will be under the same codes as other residential houses. You'll need to check with your local city hall to see what the laws in your area are regarding the sizes of tiny houses on foundations and if tiny houses on wheels are allowed to be lived in as full-time residences. Some communities and cities in Canada and the United States are more welcoming of tiny houses on wheels than others are. Some places allow tiny houses wherever RVs or mobile homes are allowed. Or, they will allow tiny houses on wheels as accessory dwelling units so they can be parked on a property with the main house. All tiny houses must meet basic building codes meaning that you'll need a place for sleeping, eating, bathing and a good heat source. All tiny houses must have a separate bathroom. They also need to have stairs or ladders as access to the loft spaces if there are any. The ceiling has to be at least 6.4 feet high as well.

Many people have been able to work with city officials to make their tiny house habitable full-time while some fly under the radar and hope a neighbour doesn't report them. When anyone reports any dwelling that's considered to be illegal, the officials will come out and put a sign of eviction on the tiny house, and the dwellers will be forced to leave their tiny house. In some cases, people have been ordered to dismantle their tiny houses completely, but this has been only in rare cases. So while you can try flying under the radar yourself, know that there's a chance you could be evicted. You can also check how long you can legally stay in an RV in your municipality. Again, this is different everywhere so check into your area first. Some places allow people to live in their RV for up to 6 months out of the year legally, and then for the rest of the time, you'd have to live in a proper home. So you could use your tiny house as a vacation home or a rental if nothing else.***

Learn MORE at Realtor


To help with slow website load, we have put all photos for this article here: View photo gallery.


Privacy Policy