Recreational vehicles (RVs) and campers are an American tradition and an increasingly common and popular way for people to travel around and see the country. No other country boasts a camping and RV infrastructure on par with the United States. And while RVing has been a hobby for many for a long time, more and more people are making the switch to living in the campers full-time.

The question, however, is this: is it legal to live in your camper in your backyard? 

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to that question. In order to find out whether or not you can live in your camper in your backyard, or use it as a way to host paying guests or family, or even to use it as a temporary dwelling while you renovate your home, you will have to do some research. 

The Federal Government’s Stance

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced in 2018 that RVs, campers, and motorhomes were not considered “permanent dwellings.” This was praised by camping enthusiasts at the time because it exempted RV makers and owners from the otherwise onerous regulations of other permanent dwellings.

It offers a good starting point for understanding whether or not you can legally live in your camper in your backyard. Generally speaking, the answer is no because campers are not considered a permanent dwelling.

States and Cities

Moving down from the federal government to the particular state and city in question is the next logical step. Ohio laws pertaining to housing and what constitutes a dwelling can often be found on the state legislature’s website

However, it is often cities that are responsible for zoning ordinances. If you are in Cincinnati, for example, you will need to consult the city ordinances. It is worth noting that in the definitions section of the zoning ordinances, a recreational vehicle is described as a temporary dwelling. 

Housing Associations and Neighborhood Covenants

In some cases, there is still another layer you will need to consider in your quest to learn whether or not you can live in your camper in your backyard: housing associations. Many housing associations and neighborhood covenants speak directly to this issue and include other by-laws intended to create a liveable, uniform, residential environment.

There could be regulations on where you can park your camper, how long it can stay there, and whether or not people can sleep in it and for how many days. 

Final Thoughts

If after your research you come to the conclusion that you cannot legally live in your camper in  your backyard, you should not take the risk. Doing so would expose you to fines and even lawsuits from disgruntled neighbors.

If all of this research sounds daunting, consider hiring a Cinchinnati lawyer to look into the legalities for you. Hiring a lawyer with experience to research the ordinances and ensure you’re not breaking the law can give you the peace of mind you need to enjoy living in your RV.

In the meantime, one option is to take advantage of one of Ohio’s great RV parks if you want to live in your camper. And, of course, the nature of camper living is that you don’t have to limit yourself to Ohio or any one spot.