November 2015

You Asked. We Answered.

At the Inquiry Answer Service, we answer, on average, more than 300 questions for our subscribers each month. We consult a variety of sources to create a custom research packet — which may include APA publications, sample ordinances and plans, articles and literature from partner organizations, and the most current information available online — for each question.

Each month, we choose one question to feature here, so you can see what your peers around the country are asking and how we answered. When your organization subscribes to PAS, you and your colleagues will also have access to previous editions.

You Asked.

How do communities regulate occupancy of travel trailers and RVs?

We'd be interested in knowing how other jurisdictions regulate permanent living in travel trailers and RVs, whether within or outside of RV parks, or allow for their temporary occupancy for short-term or limited use.

We Answered.

Most communities explicitly prohibit the permanent occupancy of travel trailers or recreational vehicles by stating in their codes that these types of vehicles are not to be used as permanent residences. In addition, communities often establish limitations on duration of stay within RV parks to prevent these sites from becoming places of permanent occupancy. A related requirement in some cases is for RV park owners to keep a registry of occupancy and allow for inspections to assure compliance with regulations. Local codes also often address duration of use of RVs outside of designated RV parks, whether as a temporary residence in certain circumstances or when parked at a residence.

Reasons for prohibiting or restricting the residential use of RVs include health and sanitation concerns. As RVs are not usually designed to connect to standard sewer or septic systems but rather store waste to be pumped out at special stations on a regular basis, when they are occupied the dumping of waste can be a problem. Some communities also cite aesthetics and community compatibility.

While prohibiting the use of trailers or RVs as permanent residences and limiting duration of stay in RV parks or campgrounds, many communities do provide for temporary use of these vehicles in certain designated circumstances, typically subject to permit requirements and time limits. Examples include use of trailers as temporary residences onsite during the construction of a dwelling or other building, as housing for caretakers of the ill or elderly, as emergency shelter, or as very short-term housing for guests. Finally, some rural communities do allow permanent residency within RVs, either within RV parks or in certain contexts, but usually in compliance with standards to assure public health and safety.

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