Is It Legal To Live In A Camper In Your Backyard?

Camper in Backyard

Published Date: September 5, 2020

Last Updated on June 22, 2023 by Camper Front

While it is possible to live full-time in your RV, there are many rules, regulations, and considerations you must understand before doing so.

Most big cities usually have enacted ordinances and codes that require your RV to adhere to the same requirements that a standard home is required to adhere to. Some cities even send code enforcement officers to scout properties.

Smaller cities and rural counties tend to have more relaxed ordinances and codes, but a nosey neighbor might just “rat” you out to the authorities.

But, is it legal to live in a camper in your backyard? Well, the answer is Yes! But there’s more to it.

Let’s talk about the details.

Is It Legal To Live In A Camper In Your Backyard?

Figuring out whether or not you can live in your RV full-time on your property might be slightly more complicated than you can imagine. But it doesn’t mean you can’t overcome the odds and live a cheap and more freeing lifestyle in an RV.

As I mentioned earlier, you can live in a camper in some states in the United States, but it can be quite difficult in some states.

Staying full-time in your RV is almost illegal if not illegal (in some states) because the government doesn’t classify RVs as permanent dwellings.

Based on the Department of Housing and Urban Development, RVs only feature camping, travel, or recreational purposes. It has always been illegal to live full-time in an RV because of this reason.

Even though your RV meets the standard requirements of manufactured housing or you have electricity, plumbing, and other necessities in place, it’s not fit for full-time living in the eyes of the law. But many people have been able to work their way around that.

Necessary Requirements For Living in a Camper

Necessary Requirements For Living in a Camper

If you plan on staying in your RV full-time, there are some codes you have to adhere to.

Building and Safety Codes

Before camping full-time on your land (in states or counties where it is legal), a local building inspector is required to come by to make sure you’re in compliance with all city and county codes.

Your RV has to have access to utilities like electrical power, and running water; it also has to have access to sewage disposal. Regardless of whether your RV has a black tank, if you’ll be living in your camper full-time, then your black tank must drain directly into an underground septic tank or city sewage.

You can actually leave the black tank closed until it fills up and then drains into the city sewage or septic tank if you prefer.

You will be required to add a septic tank or access to city sewage to your land if it doesn’t already have it.

This is primarily due to the fact that cities and counties don’t want a bacterial infection to spread or have raw sewage seeping into the groundwater, and they definitely don’t want the stink of human waste drifting through the neighborhood.

Your RV also has to have heating and cooling systems.  It should have smoke and LP alarms, and in some cities, carbon monoxide detectors too.

Read Also: How to Keep a Camper Warm in the Winter

Knowing Your Zoning Laws

Before making a leap of deciding to stay in your RV full time, you want to note the zoning laws in the area you are planning to stay, remember zoning laws and regulations differ from region to region.

Zoning is basically the way cities and counties divide their space into areas that are approved for different uses.

Like approving a particular area for commercial uses or residential uses, putting a commercial office in a residential area will lead to problems with noise, parking space, and even safety. So zoning laws are put in place to prevent that.

They also change from time to time to accommodate community-changing needs. So It is crucial to know your zoning laws where you intend to stay because it can save you a lot of time, money, and effort.

You don’t want to get into trouble or get fined due to ignorance of your zoning laws; we all know ignorance is not an excuse when it comes to the law.

It is essential to take great care when taking this step because most cities do not allow full-time motorhome living or travel-trailer living on property located within city limits. In fact, many cities do not even allow people to park their vacant rigs beside their homes!


Is it legal to live in a camper in your backyard? I believe you already know the answer!

Living full-time on your own property might seem like something you can do without the law’s interference; after all, it’s your property, but it’s more complicated than it seems.

Before going ahead to live in your RV, you have to make sure it is legal to live in a camper in your backyard to avoid run-ins with the law.

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