Proposed Regulations Changes My Impact Legality of Tiny Houses

While Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs) mostly exist in a legal grey area. One of the options tiny house builders have found is to build homes under Park Model RV standards. A Park Model RV is essentially a smaller than normal manufactured home. It’s not really an RV trailer that can be towed on vacation, and it’s not as big as a more common manufactured ‘mobile’ home.

Many tiny house builders have become registered as Park Model RV manufactures through the trade organization RVIA and can now certify their Tiny Houses on Wheels under ANSI A119.5. This has many benefits as it helps classify the house as something insurers, lenders, and planning departments understand. In other words, it takes the THOW out of the grey area and moves it into a known classification.

A proposed regulation change by HUD (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development) may remove the option of legally living full time in an RV smaller than 400 square feet… or that’s how many of us are reading the proposal. The can be found on and is titled FR–5877–P–01 Manufactured Home Procedural and Enforcement Regulations; Revision of Exemption for Recreational Vehicles.

I don’t think this spells the end of tiny houses, and I’m not alone. Read this great article over at Tiny House Build for another opinion.

We also know that there are other efforts underway to have Tiny Houses on Wheels classified under their own unique definition. So while this will be a step in the wrong direction if HUD gets it’s way, it’s not the end – only the closing of an option many people leverage.

The public has until April 11, 2016 to comment on the proposed changes. You can make public comment at

Below is a video by Eric Muss-Barnes from Luthorville: Building an Off-Grid Mojave Tiny House. He explains the situation in a good amount of detail.


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