Can you legally live in an RV on your property in Indiana?
Camping is a popular activity for many families and individuals in Indiana. It’s nice to pack up the motorhome or motorhome and get away from all the noise of the city and relax for a few days with nothing but the sounds of nature around you. While some choose the more rustic route with a tent, sleeping bag, and bare necessities, others prefer to bring many of the comforts of home with them, including an RV or motorhome that is essentially a house on wheels, complete with recliners, TVs, fireplaces, surround sound systems, and more. With house prices seemingly getting higher all the time, it would actually be cheaper to buy a property and park an RV there. The question is, can you do it legally in Indiana? The answer is not a simple “yes” or “no”.
Is it legal to live in an RV in your backyard in Indiana?
Suhre & Associates, an Indianapolis law firm, dove into this question on its website. Here’s what they had to say:
Unfortunately, RVs are not considered permanent residences. Living in a motorhome permanently in your backyard may not be legal. Many states or cities do not recognize recreational vehicles as permanent residences. They are intended for travel or temporary stays. Therefore, homeowners should be careful when living in an RV in their backyard.
That said, they note that RV laws vary from state to state, and zoning laws within the state vary from city to city. Let’s take a look at how the law is written in Indiana.
Indiana Recreational Vehicle (“RV”) Code
According to LawServer.com, Indiana Code 9-13-2-150 defines a recreational vehicle as “a vehicle with or without motive power equipped exclusively for the living quarters of persons traveling on the highways.” The code goes on to say that the term “recreational vehicle” includes the vehicle “is not permanently affixed to real property for use as a permanent dwelling.”
That sounds like a resounding “No” to the original question if you ask me. However, that doesn’t mean the option of living in your motorhome or motorhome on your property is completely out of the question. This means that you cannot use it as a permanent residence.
As Suhrie & Associates note:
Some city and county ordinances allow owners to park an RV in their yard or driveway for a few days. The intention is to allow traveling family or friends to stay in their RV for a few days during their visit.
I imagine, and this is pure speculation on my part, parking your RV or RV in your driveway or yard and living there for a short time while a major home renovation is in course inside your home would be acceptable.
Let’s take a look at the ordinances for a few of our counties here in southern Indiana to see where they stand.
According to Zoning Ordinance 17.12.130, recreational vehicles are among the listed items that “may not be used as a living or sleeping accommodation in the county except within the bounds of an approved mobile home court.” .
Within the city limits of Evansville, RVs are permitted on a property for 180 days if a building undergoes/will undergo structural alterations, reconstruction or repairs if the damage “equals or exceeds 40% of the value of the pre-modified building”. If this is/will be the case, it must be mentioned when applying for the building permit.
As “allowed by Indiana Code 36-7-4 et seq,” RVs can be installed on a site for up to 180 days, but must also “be fully licensed and ready for highway use.”
Code 153.021, Section F, states that recreational vehicles “may not be used as a living or sleeping place except when within the boundaries of an approved or approved by special exception mobile home park in the agricultural district”.
Check with your local government
Despite what county law says, each city and town in these counties may have its own law when it comes to living in a motorhome or motorhome on your property. Although the information above is a good start, prescription codes are often lengthy documents. Your best bet is to check with your county or city office for clarification of the ordinance where you live before going ahead with any plans to set up a permanent campsite in your backyard.
[Source: Suhre & Associates]
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