Tiny House Eviction

Tiny House Eviction

In the past year, Guillaume (my partner) and I have traveled all over the United States and Canada with our tiny home. We have never been turned away from a campground. We’ve parked on private land: residential driveways, small business parking lots, etc. We’ve always had permission and finding a parking spot for our tiny home has never been a problem. In fact, I would say we’ve been welcomed with open arms…. that is, until now. We were just officially served our first Tiny House eviction.

Sure, I’ve heard the horror stories. A tiny houser purchases a plot of land, parks their handcrafted cabin-on-wheels onto said property, only to be served the worst housewarming gift of all time: an official notice stating you cannot live in your tiny dream home. These “tiny house evictions” are usually the result of a neighbor complaint made to the local zoning committee, and I naively thought our home was immune. After all, thousands of neighbors have seen our house parked in driveways across the country.

Tiny House Welcome To Colorado - 0001But, our luck finally ran out.

Let me back up for a moment. After traveling for an entire year, Guillaume and I decided to take a break. We chose to winter in Denver for a few reasons: 1). Proximity to ski resorts, 2). Friends in the area, and 3). Central location between my family in Illinois and his family in Los Angeles. We were lucky enough to secure a gated backyard parking spot in Commerce City, Colorado. It was all arranged and we were excited to stay with our gracious hosts: tiny house enthusiasts, Cal and April.

Commerce City THGJ - 0001

Cal & April’s Property – A double sized lot with fencing.

As we maneuvered into the backyard, a few neighbors came out to ask questions about our tiny house.

Commerce City THGJ - 0002

Our hopeful parking spot. We were going to cover the chainlink fence (on right side) for privacy.

Business as usual. We answered their questions and offered to give tours. The neighborhood seemed delighted and welcomed us. Once parked, we assessed our winter home. The fence that lined Cal and April’s yard was three-quarters wood and one-quarter chainlink. Our house was clearly visible from the street, so we discussed a plan to create more privacy.

But the following morning Cal received a notice from Commerce City Neighborhood Services.

 

Commerce City Zoning Courtesy Notice - 0001The Tiny House eviction notice stated that the property owner had 7 days to remove the “unlawful structure” from his property. Photos of our tiny house through the chainlink fence made it obvious that they knew the structure was on wheels. Guillaume decided to call the inspector to see if there was something we could do.

Commerce City Zoning Courtesy Notice - 0002

Photos taken by the Inspector through the fence

The inspector was courteous but uncompromising.

He said that RVs and Tiny Homes are allowed to be parked on a property for storage, but not for recreating (in other words you cannot sleep in them). It seemed to us that many people were “recreating” in RVs in the neighborhood, but none of them were as eye-catching as our tiny home. We were honest with the inspector, stating that we did intend on sleeping in our tiny home. He said he could extend the notice for another few weeks, but after that, the property owner would be fined.

Ultimately there was nothing we could do, except leave. Our options were to either park in a nearby RV park, trailer park, or move somewhere else completely.

Why were we served a Tiny House eviction?

The inspector from Commerce City Neighborhood Services told us that there had been a neighbor complaint. So that is why the city was on our butt only 18 hours after we parked in Cal and April’s backyard. 

I also believe that the recent Tiny House Jamboree, held in Colorado Springs with over 40,000 attendees, highlighted tiny homes in the state Colorado (and possibly everywhere). The zoning inspector mentioned his team had JUST held a meeting about the “issue of tiny homes,” and decided on a “no tolerance policy for backyard parking.”

Don’t get me wrong, I think public awareness for the tiny house movement is a great thing. I fully support the Tiny House Jamboree, Tiny House Conference, Tiny House Workshops and Tiny House TV Shows. I believe the more publicity for the moment, the quicker it will become accepted and certain laws will have to change.

The other side of the recent popularity is that certain zoning committees and campgrounds have become wary…

Because, not two days later, we had another Tiny House eviction experience!

After our backyard tiny house eviction from Commerce City (yes, I’m calling it an eviction), we decided to move our tiny house out of the city and closer to the mountains. We pulled into Tiger Run RV Resort in Summit County, Colorado, hoping to stay for a few nights. As we were checking in with the campground receptionist, this happened – 

“We JUST had a meeting about Tiny Homes,” the resort employee explained.”I love them. I want to build one. But the resort won’t allow you to stay here.”

I was gobsmacked, and frankly, a little embarrassed. It was the first time we had ever been turned away from a campground. I gazed down a row of million dollar RVs that were allowed to park at the resort, and thought to myself: This must be what Julia Roberts felt like when she tried to shop in “Pretty Woman.” 

For the first time ever, I truly felt homeless.

In our frustration, we almost left Colorado. It was ironic that the one place we wanted to be, was also the one place we felt shunned. I’m sorry if this article sounds like bad tiny house publicity for the state. There are plenty of tiny home owners living happily ever after in Colorado. And since these incidents, our tiny house has successfully secured seasonal parking in the state (but I won’t disclose our location).

We love it here in Colorado, and we’re not dismayed. In fact, Guillaume and I are proud to be a part of this chapter in the movement.

Tiny House Lowry Campground Sunset Colorado - 0001

Sunset at Lowry Campground, Summit County. We stayed here a few nights before finding seasonal parking.

Tiny House Parking Resources

Here’s the deal: People want to live tiny because it’s affordable, eco-friendly and promotes minimalism. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to do so in this country because building codes usually require a minimum square footage. This is why tiny homes are built on wheels, but it also means they fall under RV regulations. If it is not legal to park a RV (and sleep in it overnight) in your location, it is most likely not legal to do so in a tiny home. 

More on zoning and tiny home parking:

  • Zoning codes differ in every county and every RV park has their own set of rules. Tiny House eviction doesn’t happen everywhere.
  • Some RV parks only allow RVIA certified tiny homes (tiny homes built completely by a RVIA manufacturer).
  • Short term parking is a lot easier to secure than long term parking. 
  • If you’re planning on parking your Tiny House on a piece or land or in someone’s backyard, there are places where this is legal, but you should check your local zoning codes.
  • There are exemptions for parking on your own land. For example, if you move or travel with your tiny home it is not consider “permanent.” This might mean moving 15 feet every 15 days. You’ll need to confirm this with local zoning.
  • Tiny house communities are springing up all over the country. This is becoming a real option for tiny house parking.
  • Check out this very helpful website, which outlines tiny house parking options, including: cities that allow or have variances for tiny homes, tiny house communities and RV parks that allow tiny homes.

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Tiny House Eviction Unlawful Structure

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103 Comments

  1. Brett
    August 14, 2017 / 6:32 pm

    Is there a reason you aren’t disclosing your seasonal parking location in Colorado? Interested.

  2. Tim G
    April 4, 2017 / 1:32 am

    I really would have hit the roof after arranging to stay at the RV Park only to be told to sod off. The fact that some nosy neighbor reported you guys is sickening. It’s not like your house is a fire trap or in anyway would make the value of other peoples house drop as it’s on a trailer that can be moved! I have been contemplating building tiny as I have access to 3 1/2 acres in the Poconos, but I know the people that live in the area would report us the minute we moved in…It really makes me sad that a Mobile home aka disaster magnet is ok but not a tiny house built to such a higher standard.

  3. angela
    December 10, 2016 / 11:36 am

    The slave owners don’t want their slaves to be free, They do everything they can to stop you being free, keep fighting, it’s our birth right to live free life on this prison planet.

    • godzonekid
      December 22, 2016 / 4:26 pm

      Angela, just remember you are free to leave this prison planet. Hop aboard the next space flight to Mars, or Jupiter… heck Pluto even. Yeah stuff ’em, Pluto is still a planet.

      Otherwise, try using various parts of the US Constitution to fight back. I am reliably informed that there are certain articles there that could be used to “fight the man.”

    • Ray Wood
      April 2, 2017 / 5:26 pm

      So very true you are………

  4. darlene
    November 1, 2016 / 4:27 am

    I really think that is wrong. what does it matter if you have a huge house or a small one as long as you have shelter and can eat and drink what is the problem. and as for the person who is worried about prpoerty vallues, well this is the next big thing. just as having a mansion with all the high end materialistic items having a small house means you live for LIFE not something that can be stolen or sold for money!!!!!!! good luck to you in finding your spot to park and live. we are in the saame process of find a place to put our home too

  5. Mark
    September 19, 2016 / 8:33 pm

    I live in Denver and we have the same laws here. I sympathize with you guys, but frankly if someone living the ‘gypsy’ lifestyle (more power to you) were to setup camp in my neighbors backyard, (zoned single family, residential) I would probably file a complaint. It’s not that the people of Colorado are mean… no more so than any other state… We actually have a reputation that is quite the opposite. All of the Colorado bashing is a little out of line (especially in the comments section) and like everywhere, your experience will vary drastically from neighborhood to neighborhood. Commerce City was once the industrial waste land of the metro area. They are trying to clean up their act, but have a long way to go. The fewer people that move here, the better from my perspective, so attack Colorado at will from my perspective. It serves my agenda well.

    I have a 500K house in a neighborhood with zoning laws that are there to protect the value of our neighborhood. I can’t park my brand new RV in my backyard and live in it either. I’m not saying that this restriction is cool and it’s costing me a small fortune to store it off site… but it is what it is. First mistake was thinking you could park anywhere you would like, without checking the laws first. I get away with zoning violations all the time because my neighbors like me, and I give them free eggs from my chickens and my property is kept up. The property you were staying on, it doesn’t sound like you really understood the dynamics involved in that spot, the laws, or the relationship the land owners had with the neighbors. It sounds like they weren’t on the best of terms with at least one of them…. and you paid the price for that. Don’t blame the state for those failures please… (mostly directed at the comments section here).

    My next door neighbor on the other hand has a weed infested property with garbage on and around it. Her little rat dogs bark constantly. She is a mean woman that alienates everyone that meets her. The second that neighbor lets someone squat on her property, I’m calling it in because *my life* is being impacted by her actions every day and that would just be the last straw for me.

    What seems perfectly innocent to you (or to others) is offensive enough to the people that have paid hundreds of thousands to legally live here to justify our zoning laws. These are single family lots. I love the tiny house movement, but you have to find a suitable place to park. Gypsies aren’t welcome in a lot of the US, it isn’t a Colorado problem it’s an uninformed tiny house owner problem.

    • September 21, 2016 / 5:53 am

      Mark, the first paragraph of the blog you commented on says that the author has traveled all across the US and Canada and NEVER been kicked out of anywhere until Denver, so your entire argument was proven incorrect, it is a Denver problem. Read for content before commenting.
      Also much of the hate in the comments is directed at Denver, not Colorado.

    • Ben P.
      September 25, 2016 / 2:33 am

      I have lived in Denver all my life. Commerce city is still a smelly waste land. But for some reason the city seems to think its cherry hills in the way it operates. Most other cities around Denver aren’t dbags like they are. And I bet when mark purchased his home it wasent worth nearly as much as it is now. It’s only thanks to the influx of people to the state that limited supply is driving up home values. But he probably thinks it’s because of his well manicured lawn. You are a horrible neighbor mark. I can tell you are a transplant also (I’m guessing California). Why don’t you go back to wherever YOU came from.

    • Greg
      March 17, 2017 / 8:18 pm

      I like how you go “I love the tiny house movement” and “gypsies aren’t welcome”, all in the same breath. It takes guts to own such contradictions like nothing happened. My hat’s off to you.
      (Also special mention to the bit where you go more or less “hey I spent a butt-load on my shit, so I will harm you if I want to, ok? Don’t diss me or the crooked laws enabling me for it, your happiness homes in the pointlessness of my previous decisions, and it’s hurtful.”)

    • March 18, 2017 / 12:15 am

      You hit the nail on the head there Mark. Tiny Home Owners are responsible for checking the laws out where they want to park. Not the other way around and bashing a town for having zoning laws speaks loads and volumes about the type of people they are if they have no respect for the laws they are trying to circumvent. And I too love the Tiny House movement and hope to have my own some day, but mine will be legal!

    • Will
      April 26, 2017 / 12:28 pm

      Seriously Mark, there aren’t words for how entitled and pompous you sound in this post. You are exactly the kind of person who would be welcoming a totalitarian aristocracy with loving and open arms. You epitomize the nosy neighbor worried more about property value and maintaining area “class” than your fellow human beings. You speak in such arrogance that you even highlight your neighbors dogs as “rat dogs” as if you are not the one being judgmental and alienating. I sincerely hope you do not have to “pay the price for that” one day as you honor these injustices.

      As far as your thinly veiled attempt at making yourself seem more noble and caring you mentioned giving free eggs to your neighbors, its disgusting. You do not speak on behalf of your fellow humans, when it comes to matters regarding another persons lifestyle you have no rights. However, you honestly can maintain whatever lifestyle you so wish.

      All you have added with this post is to prove beyond a doubt you have a warped first-world perspective on life, you value money beyond all else and you have no moral compass. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    • MJJordan
      May 17, 2017 / 8:32 am

      Did you, even once, think your giant carbon footprint is highly offensive to others? People who live in glass houses ….. please remember the value of American citizentry is in the equality of everyone and our diversity of thought, creativity, and ingeniuity. As for your footprint, you are taking resources from the inheritance of future generations because of your lust for entitlement.

    • Josee
      August 7, 2017 / 8:46 am

      I’m trying to digest your comment here and am really having a hard time doing so. So I’ll be as diplomatic as I can be. Let me paint a picture of the type of people I know who live in tiny homes…

      One friend is a travel ICU nurse who saves babies every day. She earns over 90,000$ a year and travels because she can gain more experience at different specialty hospitals that she can’t near home. Owning her own home that she built with a contractor allows her to do this. Another friend is a doctor in training, last year of residency, who can afford to own his tiny home outright and has to move often to finish his education. He will have 100k in student loans when he graduates and won’t have a mortgage to pay! And Lara, my travel blogger friend, explores the country writing educational materials for her blog and IT manuals. She clears 100k a year and helps her landowner maintain her property. All are backyard dwellers. These people are not gypsies and certainly don’t deserve the negative label of a gypsie.

      As for property values, tiny homes have been proven in the states that allow them, to increase property values… not decrease them. Receiving rent from a backyard dweller helps homeowners who are upside down with their homes keep their homes. This prevents foreclosures, selling a home for a loss or watching a home decline physically because the owner is in financial distress. Many make arrangements to help make improvements to the property and become actively involved in the neighborhood. They stay long term, like 6 months- 2 years.

      I encourage you to look up cities and counties who accept backyard tiny home dwellers and see their reviews and results. Check out Spur, TX, Fresno California, Walsenburg, Colorado and Brevard, NC. I think you might be surprised!

  6. Warren
    September 1, 2016 / 1:21 pm

    We live in a houseboat and have very similar difficulties as well seems some people are just mean and jealous of your happiness keep up the fight enjoy your life

  7. July 13, 2016 / 3:46 pm

    Thanks for wonderful insights, the movement needs more posts like this. It seems “rural residential”, or some degree of it, usually outside urban development areas allow owners to “fly under the radar” at the very least. Most people live in an urban areas, there is likely the greatest natural propensity to take the risk to park a tiny on a property with an existing structure in these areas. Another good source to find a spot is, tinyhouseparking.com/. As a fellow tiny home owner, I’m a independent real estate developer, and would be happy to help others find a spot in any county, landestates.net . Cheers!

    • Joy Whitman
      August 12, 2016 / 11:10 am

      Hi Karl:

      I am interested in building a tiny house but first want to find out whether I can buy some land in the Ft. Collins area to place it. Can I connect with you to explore options? Thanks – Joy

      • September 22, 2016 / 10:50 am

        Sorry for the late response Joy. Yeah, private message in a chat on our website, landestates.net, or on our Facebook.

  8. Bdubz
    June 12, 2016 / 3:19 am

    My family and I left Colorado after living there 20 years. Every year after visiting other States we noticed that specifically Coloradans en mass appear to be a little more irritable and jaded as time goes on, road rage seems the norm now in the metro area ( underdeveloped roadways) We also noticed hardly any of the properties seem to have much privacy, which made for nosey neighbors much of the time…I guess big fences or walls make great neighbors and Colorado is lacking in that dept. If the property you all parked your Tiny Home on in Commerce city was more private, maybe neighbors would have not complained. Commerce city was always known as the armpit of Colorado though anyways. Go stay at BLM land, after all we all own it, and you can usually stay for extended periods before having to move, or find a lot with RV friendly zoning in the foothills somewhere. Most of the people I see in Tinyhomes in Colorado live where neighbors are not in close proximity.

  9. March 31, 2016 / 6:53 am

    Well, your welcome to stay with us anytime! We site built our tiny house (256 sq. ft.) in rural Oklahoma, then built a 128 sq. ft. guest house in the back. We have 2 acres and would enjoy the company. Our home is built to be utilitarian and lacks style, but we love it. I just found your blog and have now spent more then 2 hours reading your posts. Good Job! –Thomas http://www.lyvfree.com

      • April 19, 2016 / 1:01 am

        we have councils and neighbors like that here. I hope the tiny house movement grows and the laws change. Only people power can do that!!!!!!!!!!! Love your tiny house keep enjoying it…… Kathy from down under (Austrlia)

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