Downsizing is becoming a new trend as people choose to live in “tiny homes” that are efficient in every sense of the word. But are these pint-sized homes legal?
You may have heard about the tiny home craze. These are homes that are typically less than 500 square feet. They have all the features of a larger home, just packed into a smaller space.
Some are placed permanently on the ground. Many sit on trailers with wheels, so they can be moved around if need be. That makes them similar to an RV, but whether or not to classify them as RVs is one of the issues under debate.
Tiny homes look like miniature homes so the aesthetics are different. They may also make more use of typical home-building materials, and more weatherproofing for all-year comfort. RV’s are not typically made for extreme weather conditions.
But as this tiny home trend catches on, many are finding it tough to find a place to put them. According to “Investing Moguls”, many cities have building codes that require a minimum square footage for single-family homes and require that homes are connected to utilities.
Tiny homes may not need to be connected to utilities. Many operate “off the grid” with solar power, rainwater catch systems, and composting toilets.
Investing Moguls reports that some state and local governments are baffled as to whether to classify tiny homes as RVs, mobile homes or backyard cottages. It also reports that residents and officials in many of those communities worry that tiny homes will drive down property values.
There are some communities that have loosened the rules on tiny homes. And this last January, Fresno, California became the “first” city in the nation to set code standards for the use of tiny homes as permanent homes on residential property.
The city made a decision to classify them as “backyard cottages”. There are rules for their use. In Fresno, tiny homes can be used as a second living space in the backyard of a home. They must be within 100 and 400 square feet in size. They must be registered with the DMV if they sit on a trailer. And only one tiny home is allowed on each property. And, you are also allowed to “rent them out”.
On the American Tiny House Association website, there’s a large compilation of articles on zoning ordinances across the country that deal with tiny homes. The very latest one shows that Washington County, Utah passed an ordinance that makes the county “tiny-home friendly”.
In that case, tiny homes must be a minimum of 300 square feet. They must also sit on a foundation and be hooked up to utilities. Tiny homes on wheels will be classified as recreational vehicles and must abide by rules for “conditional use in recreational areas”. Those vehicles are not allowed on residential lots.
In Minnesota, the state senate passed legislation a few months ago, that authorized the use of tiny homes as backyard cottages for the elderly, disabled, and those nearing the end of their lives. They are referred to as “granny pods” and must sit on the property of a family member and be at least 300 square feet in size.
The idea behind the law is to make it easier and more affordable for families to take care of these individuals. They are only allowed to remain on the property for as long as one year, however. And local municipalities can “opt out” if they want.
And in Ooltewah, Tennessee, an organization that helps the homeless wanted to build a community of 32 “tiny homes” as affordable rentals. But, planners voted it down after a petition drive from residents opposed to the idea.
So the rules and regulations are fluctuating wildly right now. But it appears to be a trend that is not going away, and with the debate over affordable housing, there could be more of a shift in this direction.
If you want to read more about the zoning ordinances for tiny homes, you can find more information in the Real Wealth Investor Academy. Join today for only $10.