September 10, 2020 | Indiana Law
Recreational vehicles (RVs) are becoming more popular as people search for inexpensive living arrangements. The benefit of living in an RV full-time is that you can move your home whenever you desire.
You can travel throughout Indiana and the United States. With more people telecommuting instead of working in an office, purchasing an RV may sound more appealing now.
However, what if you want to keep your RV at home? Maybe you want to use the RV to let your children or other family members live in your backyard. It can make a good option for guests and family members who need a place to stay.
Unfortunately, RVs are not considered permanent residences. Living in an RV permanently in your backyard may not be legal.
Zoning Ordinances and Restrictive Covenants
Many states or cities do not recognize recreational vehicles as permanent residences. They are for travel or temporary stays. Therefore, homeowners must be careful about living in an RV in their backyard.
The laws regarding recreational vehicles vary by state. Within a state, the local zoning ordinances may vary from city to city. Therefore, an RV owner needs to research the laws regarding living in a recreational vehicle in their backyard.
Most urban areas restrict where an RV can be parked. They often prohibit using a recreational vehicle as a permanent residence. In rural areas, the laws and restrictions regarding living in an RV may be more relaxed, but not always.
For example, Indianapolis zoning and subdivision ordinances amended the ordinance regarding commercial vehicles in 2017. The zoning ordinance specifically restricts the use of recreational vehicles for living.
The ordinance states that RVs cannot be used for housekeeping purposes, sleeping, or living for more than one instance per calendar year. The length of time the RV can be used for these purposes cannot exceed 15 days. The ordinance also dictates where an RV can be parked within the city limits.
In addition to state and local zoning ordinances and laws governing recreational vehicles, homeowners also need to review the restrictive covenants for their neighborhood. Many neighborhoods have restrictive covenants that prohibit parking RVs, boats, and other similar vehicles in a homeowner’s backyard.
If RVs are permitted to be parked on a homeowner’s property, there may be restrictions in the covenants that prohibit the RV from being used as a residence. Even in locations that do not have laws that prohibit living in an RV in your backyard, your Homeowners’ Association could sue you if you violate the restrictive covenants.
Ordinances and restrictive covenants are designed to protect neighbors and the general public from recreational vehicles being used as permanent housing throughout the city. Assuming that you can live in an RV in your backyard without doing some research could result in being sued by your neighbors, fines, and other consequences. If you continue to break the laws regarding RVs in your area, you could incur significant fines for repeated violations.
If you want to change the laws regarding RVs in your area, you can talk to a zoning ordinance attorney about the process of fighting and changing local ordinances.
Where Can You Live in Your RV in Indiana Legally?
There are places in Indiana that you can live legally in your recreational vehicle. RV parks throughout Indiana offer a variety of amenities that allow owners to live in their RVs permanently. Before you choose an RV park, you need to do some research.
Some recreational vehicle parks are developed with full hookups for water, sewer, and power. However, other RV parks are semi-developed or not developed at all. They do not have hookups for all utilities.
You may find a park that offers other amenities, such as maintenance of a small lawn, security, recreation areas, and other amenities. The rates depend on the amenities and availability for hookups. Also, some RV parks may limit the length of stay or offer semi-permanent options for parking your RV.
If you are traveling, you may want to consider national and state parks. Many parks have campsites that accommodate RVs. The parks may be closed during certain times of the year and restrict the length of stay.
Some city and county ordinances permit homeowners to park an RV in their yard or driveway for a few days. The intent is to allow family or friends who may be traveling to stay in their RV a few days as they visit.
In some areas, homeowners may rent out their driveway for a day or two for RV owners who need to park and stay somewhere for just a few days. Again, the availability depends on state and local laws.