Josh Harper | March 31, 2021 | Texas Law
It depends on where you live. However, it is not legal to live in a camper or recreational vehicle (RV) parked in your backyard in most places. Most cities and counties have zoning ordinances that prohibit RVs and campers as permanent residences when they are parked in the owner’s yard.
Texas law allows cities and counties to adopt and implement zoning regulations. Therefore, the ordinances for RVs and campers may vary significantly, depending on where you live in Texas.
Before deciding to move your adult children, parent, or friend into the RV in your backyard, do your research. Illegally residing in a camper in your backyard could result in fines and other penalties.
Can I Sleep in My RV in My Backyard?
If you can legally park your RV or camper in your backyard, it is generally not unlawful to spend a night or two every once in a while in your RV or camper. You should still research local zoning ordinances to determine if there are restrictions on how many nights you can spend in the RV or camper before the city deems you to be living in the camper.
Likewise, many people use RVs and campers for out-of-town guests. For example, family or friends may visit and stay in the camper for a few nights. The same rules apply for residency. Make sure you are not violating any zoning ordinances with the occasional visit by family and friends.
You May Not Be Able to Park Your RV on Your Property
Before you tackle the question of living in your camper, you need to make sure you can park your camper on your property. Depending on the local ordinances, you might not be able to keep an RV or camper on your property.
If you are permitted to park the camper on your property, there could be restrictions. The ordinances may restrict where the RV can be parked and how long the camper may remain on the property without being moved.
Also, your Homeowners Association Restrictions and Bylaws might prohibit RVs and campers from being parked in yards. Many Restrictive Covenants for subdivisions prohibit parking RVs and campers in yards for extended periods.
There could be rural areas of Texas where it might be legal to live in an RV or camper. However, owners should research the zoning ordinances and laws before running water and electric lines to the RV and setting it up for long-term living. You could still face legal problems even though you are parked in a rural area where no one should care whether you live in your RV or camper.
Living in Recreational Vehicle Parks
There are two options for living in RV parks. You can search for an RV Co-op or rent a lot.
An RV Co-op may allow individuals to purchase a lot for life. The co-op provides water, sewer, electric, and cable hookups for a fee. Some parks have other amenities, such as pools, parks, and fitness centers.
Of course, this means that you live within feet of your neighbors, as you would if you were staying in a campground. There are also quarterly fees and dues to cover general maintenance and upkeep.
You may also stay at an RV campground for an extended period. You rent the lot for a fixed time. At the end of the rental period, you can leave, or you might be able to enter a new rental agreement. Many of the same disadvantages of an RV Co-op apply to an RV campground or park.
Fighting Criminal Charges Related to Your Recreational Vehicle or Camper
New owners who have no experience or knowledge about RVs and campers should be cautious. Many laws govern the use and operation of campers and recreational vehicles. Before purchasing an RV or camper, it is in your best interest to ensure you understand all laws pertaining to owning an RV, including titling requirements, insurance, and zoning ordinances.
If you are charged with violating any laws, it is best to seek legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney immediately. Ignoring the matter can make the consequences much worse. A lawyer explains your legal rights and your options for fighting the charges.
Tickets or criminal charges related to a camper or RV may seem minor. Some people may believe they are ridiculous. However, as with all criminal matters, you should take the charges seriously and work with a criminal lawyer to resolve the matter to avoid fines and other penalties.