Is It Illegal to Live in a Tent in Your Backyard [By States]

Tent in yard

The first thought that comes to most people’s minds in this regard is, “It’s my backyard, why couldn’t I live in a tent there?” To a wide extent, their thoughts are valid, or at least they would have been back in the early 1700s. But even then, people were not allowed to live the way they wanted to because of the codes (laws) that guide human existence.

Without those laws, I could take my truck to the highway and set up camp there. Yes, you might say these two situations are quite different, but if you’re permitted to officially live in a tent, the gap between that and moving your tent to the highway or a community center is small. Although, doing so would be pretty weird, right?

In the United States, it is illegal for people to live in tents, cars, or items that cannot be classified as buildings suitable for human dwelling. Even if you own a piece of land, living off the grid — in a tent — is illegal, except if you plan on acquiring temporary camping permits, which you would have to renew every month or year depending on the state you’re residing in.

Every state in the U.S. has its own policies regarding living off the grid, which is why we will talk about each state and its laws concerning living in a tent in your backyard.


AlabamaOpens in a new tab.

According to the Alabama State Board of Health Bureau of Environmental Services, temporary campsites must be inspected by the health department to check specific factors (sewage, water usage and channels, safety precautions, location of the campsite, camping duration, and so many others).

A camp/tent shall not be located in areas, which constitute health or safety hazards. All gas or oil-burning heating, and/or cooking facilities provided shall be properly vented and maintained according to State Fire Marshal requirements. No open-faced gas and/or oil-burning heaters shall be allowed under any circumstances.”

The above excerpt categorically states that a temporary camp or tent must not be located in areas that may lead to safety hazards.

What are considered safety hazards? Conditions that are termed unsafe for people to dwell and work in. A tent falls into this category because when it gets extremely hot, thus, the tent materials could cause suffocation, which can result in death. Besides, how does the person living in a tent plan to stay safe? Probably by lighting a campfire. This can put the entire neighborhood at risk because the man-made fire could get out of hand, thus causing a fire incident in the tent, which can spread to the entire neighborhood in no time. This is why living in a tent in Alabama is not just frowned upon, but also illegal.


AlaskaOpens in a new tab.

In Alaska, all tent-dwelling laws are temporary. No individual is allowed to reside in a tent longer than the designated period. Regardless of whether you own the property or rent it. In reality, it’s even trickier if the land belongs to you because there are strict health codes that guide “public dwelling.”

A tent cannot be regarded as a home for various reasons. How will you eat? Cook? Stay warm? Go to the bathroom? Stay safe and secure? All of these factors are the reasons why you can’t outrightly live in a tent in your backyard rather than in a proper building.

Also, a campground is a geographical location regulated and monitored by Alaska’s park campground authorities, which check all activities carried out on the campground. As your legally owned space is not a campground, camp-related activities there are outrightly prohibited.

According to the AlaskaOpens in a new tab. Department of Fish and Game, “Many good hunting areas in the state are privately owned, and hunters must obtain advance permission to hunt in these areas.” If you live in such areas, camping in your backyard — therefore, not in a building­ — is unadvised. You wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a bear during hunting hours.


Arizona Opens in a new tab.

In Arizona, the laws are quite stringent. Anyone who is found guilty of certain acts, like public urination, public disturbance, and others, can and will be prosecuted. Except if you’re planning to build a very high fence around your property, which can also get you in trouble, I’d advise you to look for an alternative to living in a tent permanently.

Indeed, there are laws regarding smoking, eating, or drinking in a park in Arizona. For instance, you may not possess a glass bottle or other beverage container in a park, except in Heritage Square, the Encanto Clubhouse, and Shemer Art Center and Museum. You may not possess alcohol in a park either unless you have an alcohol permit. Finally, if a park exhibits “no smoking” signs, you may not smoke there. Would you be willing to incorporate these laws when you start living in a tent on your private land?

Are you the only one planning to live in the tent, or are you thinking of living there with your family? Whichever option you go for, neighbors have the right to report your activities to the law authorities because you choosing to live in a tent can be hazardous to the general well-being of those living around your vicinity.


ArkansasOpens in a new tab.

The Arkansas state government defines a mobile home as “a transportable, single-family dwelling unit suitable for year-round occupancy and containing the same water supply, waste disposal, and electrical conveniences as immobile housing.” According to this definition, a tent does not qualify as a mobile house. Therefore, it cannot be categorized as an alternative for a home.

Mobile homes are built like immobile homes. They have all the facilities required for a human to live their daily life without constituting a nuisance to their immediate environment. But if you live in a tent, what are your plans for a daily shower? Would you have a bath in your backyard as well? If that’s the case, your neighbors have every right to report you to the authorities for breaking the rules and regulations guiding mobile dwelling, which your tent living also violates.

The Arkansas Department of Health also states that “conditions of the soil, groundwater level, drainage, and topography shall not create hazards to the property or the health or safety of the occupants.” In this case, the tent in which you dwell can be a safety hazard for you and the community. Indeed, when it gets windy, your tent can be blown away, which would leave you stranded in the cold. To prevent such occurrences, it’s illegal to “permanently” live in a tent in your backyard in Arkansas.


CaliforniaOpens in a new tab.

To quote a law from the California Department of Parks and Recreation Lawbook, “Fires are permitted only in facilities provided for this purpose. This is necessary to prevent disastrous fires. Portable stoves may be used in designated areas. It is the responsibility of every visitor to use extreme caution with any burning materials, including tobacco.

If you plan on living in a tent illegally in California, do everything you can to avoid setting campfires or using a portable stove because those are safety hazards that can result in issues with government bodies, as the tent’s material and fire don’t mix well. Thus, if a fire breaks out, your neighbors are at the risk of losing their houses to a terrible fire accident, and so is the whole neighborhood. This is one of the key reasons why living in a tent in California is prohibited.


ColoradoOpens in a new tab.

In Colorado, “Some State Parks do not have campsites available for reservations during the offseason, but allow camping on a first-come, first-served basis; please visit the specific park page for details on their first-come, first-served camping options.”

What this excerpt from the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Regulation document means is that even in registered state parks, there are strict regulations that must be adhered to. For instance, you can’t camp during the off-season, regardless of your desire and interest to do so. You may wonder, what does this have to do with living in a tent in your backyard?

If you bypass every law within the borders of Colorado and stick with your plan to live in a tent, what might happen when the offseason weather kicks off? Would you stand your ground and battle with the extreme weather conditions, knowing your life is at risk? Because of such health risks, the Colorado state government stands against residents living in tents, which cannot be substituted for homes.


ConnecticutOpens in a new tab.

The Connecticut state government wants its citizens to be able to enjoy the views of the night sky from a tent under camping laws, as nothing beats spending time with nature. It’s okay to just want to step away from civilization for a while to reconnect with yourself. That’s perfectly fine when it’s done in line with the regulations concerning outdoor temporary living.

If you decide to take things up a notch by mixing the adventurous side of living in the woods and the tranquility of Connecticut communities, you might have run-ins with government agencies because both worlds cannot coexist.


Delaware Opens in a new tab.

To quote the Delaware housing code, “The State Housing Code shall apply to existing residential structures used for human habitation. The provisions are designed to eliminate or prevent substandard conditions concerning structures, protect against fire hazards, provide for adequate space for light and air, provide for proper heating and ventilating and eliminate unsanitary conditions and overcrowding.

Every portion of a building or premises used or intended to be used for residential purposes shall comply with this chapter, except hotels and motels serving transient guests only, migratory labor housing, rest homes, convalescent homes, nursing homes, recreational campers, and civil defense shelters.”

According to the law, a tent does not provide adequate resources to be classified as a regular structure, which means by living in one, you would break the Delaware housing codes. Some individuals believe they can circumvent the codes and find a blind spot. Of course, that is a possibility, but for how long? Eventually, someone would file a complaint and state housing agencies would be at the door of your tent in no time.


Florida Opens in a new tab.

Under Florida housing laws, a person may not establish or maintain a mobile home park, lodging park, recreational vehicle park, or recreational camp in the state without first obtaining a permit from the housing department. Such a permit is not transferable from a place or person to another. Each permit must be renewed annually.

The department may refuse to give or renew the permit of any park or camp that is not constructed or maintained in accordance with the law and the rules of the department. Keep in mind that living in a tent permanently is not at all like camping.

Within the boundaries of Florida, citizens are not allowed to live in communities however they please. Instead, they are required to follow all housing codes, which include having a building with all the required facilities. If they fail to respect these conditions, they can be prosecuted for breaking housing regulations.



In Georgia, every homeowner is required to present a plan to the town’s planning authorities to get confirmation that an environment can be “liveable”.

“The plans shall indicate the proposed layout and arrangement of rooms in the establishment and what each is to be used for. Mechanical and plumbing details must be shown as well as construction materials to be used on floors, walls, and ceilings.

Additional plans for a kitchen will be required if food is to be prepared and served. The plans shall indicate the proposed menu or list of foods to be served, floor plan layout, arrangement of equipment, HVAC and plumbing, construction materials and finish schedule, the type, and model of proposed fixed equipment and facilities, and the anticipated service volume per day.

If swimming pools or spas are planned, properly prepared plans and specifications must be submitted to the local Health Authority for review, approval, and issuance of a construction permit as per applicable rules and regulations governing public swimming pools.”

You can’t provide such plans for a tent, which means that if you choose to live in one, without providing a detailed house plan, you are choosing to live illegally. Doing this is unsafe, risky, and far too stressful.


HawaiiOpens in a new tab.

Being one of the most accommodating states in the U.S., Hawaii has one of the most tolerable laws when it comes to outdoor activities and temporary dwelling. Provided you stick to the law, you should not have any issue with state authorities.

Rules like, “Do not operate any audio device, television, or musical instrument in such a manner and at such times to create excessive noise or nuisance,” or “Operation or use of any portable electric generator is prohibited, except with a special use permit” are very important when it comes to living on the beachside. Does this cover living in a tent on your property? No. But the chances of your neighbors reaching out to local authorities concerning your choice of living are pretty slim as Hawaii residents are known to be calm and accommodating. Therefore, if you plan on living in a tent illegally and not have government agencies knocking on your front door now and then, Hawaii is the place to be.


Idaho Opens in a new tab.

According to the Idaho state government, “The term “camp” or “camping” means to use as a temporary or permanent place of dwelling, lodging or living accommodation, and which indicia of camping may include, but are not limited to, storing personal belongings, using tents or other temporary structures for storing personal belongings or for sleeping, carrying on cooking activities, laying out bedding or making any fire. Any person who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an infraction.”

If you dwell in an environment that is not classified as a house, you are guilty of camping. Individuals found guilty of this would be charged with an infraction.


IllinoisOpens in a new tab.

“Campgrounds on lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources are established for the convenience and enjoyment of outdoor recreation by the visiting public. Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ campgrounds are not places for permanent or semi-permanent residences, bases for operations or a business, or facilities for non-campers residences. All campground amenities are for the sole purpose of registered camping parties (i.e., showers, dump stations, dumpsters, etc.)”

The Illinois camp code defines various legal classifications of camps as:

  • Tent Camp – any camp using a fabric-type shelter erected on the ground, and not a part of a trailer unit as the basic unit that has been transported to the campsite by a motor vehicle.
  • Trailer Camp – any camp which has a trailer, of not more than 40 feet in total overall length including any extensions forward or backward beyond the living quarters, as the basic shelter unit. This includes tent trailers, the standard travel trailer, or boats mounted on a trailer and used as the basic shelter unit.
  • Vehicle Camp – any camp using a vehicle as the basic shelter unit. This includes converted buses, manufactured camper buses, and automobiles, of not more than40 feet in total overall length when used as the main sleeping and shelter unit of the camp.
  • Primitive Camp – any camp using a shelter carried to a site via bicycle, canoe, horse, or on the back of a camping member.
  • Group Organization Camp – any camp using any one or combination of the various types of shelter when the camping group makeup qualifies as an organization camp, according to Sections 130.120 and 130.130.
  • Boat Camp – any camp using a boat that is anchored off the area shore or tied on Department water frontage for shelter and sleeping. When the boat is placed on a campsite and used as a basic unit of the camp, it will then be classified as a trailer camp (subsection (b) above).
  • Cabin Camp – any camp using a wooden-type shelter erected on a concrete pad as a permanent structure and within a campground.

In all of these classifications, the Illinois government does not make provisions for permanent living in a tent. That makes this way of living unlawful.


Indiana Opens in a new tab.

Many states or cities do not recognize recreational vehicles as permanent residences but consider them as vehicles for travel or temporary stays. Therefore, homeowners must be careful about living in an RV in their backyard.

The laws regarding recreational vehicles vary between states. Within a state, the local zoning ordinances may also vary from city to city. Therefore, an RV owner needs to research the laws regarding living in a recreational vehicle in their backyard. Most urban areas restrict where an RV can be parked. They also often prohibit using a recreational vehicle as a permanent residence.

In rural areas, the laws and restrictions regarding living in an RV may be more relaxed, although not always. For example, Indianapolis zoning and subdivision ordinances amended the ordinance regarding commercial vehicles in 2017. The zoning ordinance specifically restricts the use of recreational vehicles as living spaces.

The ordinance states that RVs cannot be used for housekeeping purposes, sleeping, or living for more than one instance per calendar year. The length of time the RV can be used for these purposes cannot exceed 15 days. The ordinance also dictates where an RV can be parked within the city’s limits.

RVs are the only temporary living facilities allowed in Indiana. Any other facility is prohibited by the state.


Iowa Opens in a new tab.

In the state of Iowa, there are 123 different categories regarding people’s freedom to do whatever they want with their lands — provided it falls within any of the 123 categories. Unfortunately, living in a tent does not fall into any of the provisions for land usage in the state.

Unlike other states in the U.S., Iowa has zero tolerance for law violators, so you might need to reconsider living in a tent permanently there as it is not classified as a decent living space.

According to the Iowa code of ordinances, “Dwelling means any building or portion thereof which is designed or used exclusively for residential purposes but not including a tent, cabin, trailer or mobile home (except when a mobile home has been converted to real estate by destruction of the vehicular frame; attaching the mobile home to a permanent foundation; and notifying the Story County Assessor, who shall inspect for compliance and collect mobile home vehicle title from the owner and enter the property upon the tax roll).”


Sleeping under the stars is fantastic and can get you a little closer to nature, but how much closer will it get you to jail? Jokes aside, plenty of people wonder about the legality of sleeping in outdoor areas. Although spending the night in public areas is obviously illegal, can you legally sleep in your own backyard? Read our article to find out. 



“Campers, motorhomes, and tents can still be used for recreation but not as a residence,” Planning Director Scottie Eagan said. For instance, a property owner could not use a camper to house a tenant, which has been an issue in Franklin County.

“The planning department does not send out a notice of violation until it gets a written complaint from a neighbor or citizen,” Karim added. In these cases, complaints involved noises at night and vehicles coming and going.

Living in a camper, motorhome or tent can be a problem because people may not have access to water and sewer services required by the county. This is one of the key issues that government agencies have with people using tents as a substitute for actual buildings.


KentuckyOpens in a new tab.

Just like most states in the United States, Kentucky has codes and regulations that require homeowners to reach out to town planners to have their lands and structural plans inspected before their structures can be built. This doesn’t cut across to tents because they cannot be classified as valid replacements for homes.

Louisiana Opens in a new tab.

In Louisiana, camping laws are quite strict. Indeed, the state government has zero tolerance for law violations and misconduct. The following rules are some of the camping laws that are fully enforced in all camping sites in the state.

  • “All litter disposed of on-site, shall be placed into a proper litter receptacle in such a manner that the litter is prevented from being carried away or deposited by the elements upon OSP property or water bodies. Disposal means to throw, discard, place, deposit, discharge, burn, dump, drop, eject, or allow the escape of a substance.
  • No person shall drain or dump refuse waste including greywater from any trailer or other vehicle except in places or receptacles provided for such uses.
  • No person shall clean fish or other food, or wash clothing or articles of household use except in designated areas. No person shall clean, field dress, or have in open view on OSP property any harvested animal or animals, except in association with an OSP-approved management hunt or event.
  • No person shall discharge or allow to be discharged into any water of the state any waste or substance of any kind that will tend to cause pollution of water used for human consumption or swimming.
  • All deposits of bodily wastes into or on any portion of a comfort station or other public structure must be made in receptacles provided for that purpose. No person shall deposit any bottles, cans, cloth, rags, metal, wood, stone, or any other non-approved substance into any of the fixtures in such stations or structures.
  • No person shall use refuse containers or other refuse facilities for dumping household or commercial garbage or trash brought to a site.
  • No person shall bury or burn garbage, litter, or dead animals on OSP property.
  • A person may enter an OSP site for the sole purpose of using the dump station facilities. General admission fees plus a $5 dump station use fee apply to such use.”

Now, wonder how these rules apply to living in a tent on your land. Tents don’t have provision for any of the requirements stated above, which means that if you proceed to live permanently in a tent, you will be breaking many laws, which would not end well if your neighbors reach out to law enforcement officials and file a complaint.


MaineOpens in a new tab.

The Maine government only permits campgrounds to use temporary living facilities (camps or tents) for 7-21 days depending on the season, location of the campsite, and the number of people scheduled to be at the campsite. So, how does the Maine government define a “campground?”

  • Campgrounds shall not include recreational vehicles.
  • Campgrounds shall be licensed by the State of Maine Department of Human Services.
  • No tent shall be located within 75 feet of the perimeter of the site.
  • The land area of the campground shall not be less than the equivalent of 5,000 square feet of land area per tent site exclusive of the roadway network.

In connection with the operation of a home occupation, the following requirements shall be met:

  1. A home occupation shall not occupy more than 500 square feet of floor area or more than 25% of the total floor area of such a dwelling unit, whichever is less, or in the case of licensed family day care homes or home babysitting services, to accommodate not more than six children plus two children after school and having no nonresidential employees.
  2. There shall be no outside storage of goods and materials nor shall there be exterior displays, or display of goods visible from the outside.

Unfortunately, outdoor tents are not classified as a standard option for living decently. That means proceeding to live in a tent in your backyard is prohibited.


Maryland Opens in a new tab.

Just like most states in the United States, Maryland has codes and regulations that require homeowners to reach out to town planners to have their lands and structural plans inspected before their structures can be built. This doesn’t cut across to tents because they cannot be classified as valid replacements for homes.


MassachusettsOpens in a new tab.

Camping on public lands, away from developed recreation facilities, is referred to as “dispersed camping.” Most of the remainder of public lands are open to dispersed camping, as long as it does not conflict with other authorized uses, or in areas posted “closed to camping,” or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.

Dispersed camping is allowed on public land for a period inferior to 14 days within a 28-consecutive-day period. The 28-day period begins when a camper initially occupies a specific location on public lands. The 14-day limit may be reached either through multiple separate visits or through 14 days of continuous overnight occupation throughout the 28-day period. After the 14th day of occupation, the camper must move outside of a 25-mile radius from the previous location for at least 28 days.

Living in a tent does not fall into any category of outdoor camping. All campers cannot convert the campground into a permanent residential area because there are laid down laws that protect the state from all sorts of misconduct.

Even if the land belongs to you, you don’t decide what it is used for. For instance, you can’t build a factory or fast food place in the middle of a neighborhood just because you own the land. You are required by law to submit your residential plans for approval before kick-starting any building process.



According to the Michigan state law, “Campground” means a parcel or tract of land under the control of a person in which sites are offered for the use of the public or members of an organization, either free of charge or for a fee, for the establishment of temporary living quarters for 5 or more recreational units. The campground does not include a seasonal mobile home park licensed under the mobile home commission act, 1987 PA 96, MCL 125.2301 to 125.2349.

“Mobile home” means a structure, transportable in 1 or more sections, which is built on a chassis and designed to be used as a dwelling with or without a permanent foundation, when connected to the required utilities, and includes the plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and electrical systems contained in the structure.

“Recreational unit” means a tent or vehicular-type structure, primarily designed as temporary living quarters for recreational, camping, or travel use, which either has its motive power or is mounted on or drawn by another self-powered vehicle. A tent means a collapsible shelter of canvas or other fabric stretched and sustained by poles and used for camping outdoors.

Recreational units do not include a mobile home used as a permanent dwelling, residence, or living quarters.


MinnesotaOpens in a new tab.

The following are some examples of nuisances that should be reported:

  • Accumulation of garbage, junk, debris, manure, decayed food or matter, or other waste that causes offensive odors, unsightly conditions, or excessive manifestation of insects to the discomfort and annoyance of adjacent property owners or the public.
  • Burning or depositing leaves, trash, lawn clippings, or other materials into streets, alleys, or gutters
  • Depositing snow or ice onto a public street, alley, sidewalk, or trail.
  • Outdoor storage or accumulation of junk including, but not limited to junk vehicles, parts of machinery or motor vehicles, inoperable recreational vehicles, metal, appliances, building materials, or other similar items.
  • Obstructing a public sidewalk or street.
  • Excessive noise in violation of the noise standards of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Rules
  • Structures or part of structures which because of fire, wind, or other natural disasters or deterioration are no longer habitable as a dwelling or its original purpose.
  • Any other material or equipment that may cause blight or an unsightly neighborhood condition.

In this situation, a tent can cause blight in a neighborhood in stormy weather conditions, which makes living in it illegal.


Mississippi Opens in a new tab.

It shall be unlawful for any person to maintain, or operate any recreational vehicle campground within the State of Mississippi unless he/she holds a valid permit issued annually by the Department in the name of such person for the specific campground.

All applications for permits shall be made, before any construction of the campground, to the applicable county health department which shall issue a permit only after a final inspection of the completed RV campground has indicated all requirements of the regulations are met.


Missouri Opens in a new tab.

According to the Missouri state government, in the following campsites, tents are allowed temporarily:

(A)Basic Campsite. A basic campsite is one that includes a parking pad, fire grill, picnic table, and lantern post.

(B) Camping is a recreational activity in which temporary outdoor living can be experienced.

None of these categories make provisions for a permanent campsite, which you’re planning to have on your private property.


Montana Opens in a new tab.

Camping at one or more campsites in a state park for a period longer than 14 nights during any consecutive 30-day period, beginning with the first night occupied;

(i) before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, an extension of the 14-night limit may be allowed if a campsite is available;

(ii) any extension must be approved by park staff prior to check out time;

(iii) extensions may not exceed 7 nights;

(f) exceeding established occupancy limits.

In this regard, you are only permitted to stay on public lands in camping facilities (tents) for 30 days at a stretch. Such laws only cover public camping, which makes private camping an act that is not backed by law.



Camping on public lands, away from developed recreation facilities, is referred to as “dispersed camping.” Most of the remainder of public lands are open to dispersed camping, as long as it does not conflict with other authorized uses, or in areas posted “closed to camping,” or in some way adversely affects wildlife species or natural resources.

Living in a tent does not fall into any category of outdoor camping. Therefore, campers cannot convert a campground into a permanent residential area because there are laid down laws that protect the state from all sorts of misconduct.


Nevada Opens in a new tab.

The ordinance currently reads that it is unlawful for any person to camp overnight on public property in Nevada City without advance notice to, and written approval from, the Nevada City Police Department or on any private property without first obtaining permission of the owner and making adequate arrangements to assure sanitary conditions and proper waste disposal.

The ordinance also applies to car camping. Campers can be fined up to $100 for a first violation, up to $200 for the second violation, and up to $500 for a third offense within a year. Offenders can then be charged with misdemeanors for any subsequent violations within a 12-month period.

Note that neighborhoods are also considered in this category because private properties are not camp zones.


New HampshireOpens in a new tab.

Short-term camping on your land is not an issue under state law. Although, bear in mind that towns may limit long-term “camping” as some owners see it as a way to get around taxes and zoning.

This is why the government of New Hampshire is strongly opposed to residents choosing to live in tents on their property because it is an avenue to circumvent tax payments.


New Jersey Opens in a new tab.

Following review and approval of the water supply and sewage disposal facilities by the local health authority, any person desiring to construct, expand, or operate a public campground shall forward copies of the applicable plans and specifications for approval to any subdivisions of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection having, including but not limited to:

  1. Well Permits
  2. On-site sewage disposal
  3. Water supply and so many others.

According to New Jersey laws, people who chose to live in tents do not follow any legal proceedings simply because the goal is to live off-grid, away from regulations, tax payments, or town-planning requirements.


Backyard camping is a great activity to spend time with your loved ones and relieve stress. Plus, it can help you create bonds with family and friends. If this is your first time to do this activity, read our guide to camping in your backyard before you get started. 


New MexicoOpens in a new tab.

In New Mexico, it is illegal to camp on your land for more than two weeks. This seems to be an arbitrary duration that most counties and cities have adopted. Some believe this is about keeping homeless people from setting up tent cities and devaluing surrounding properties.

For you, this means that if you wanted to camp in a trailer while building your cabin, you would not be allowed to stay there for more than two weeks, unless you got a long-term camping permit from the city. Good luck with that.

If the city refuses to issue a permit, then you cannot camp on your land, and subsequently, you cannot build your cabin unless you have another place to stay while you’re building it, which defeats the purpose of having your own land, to begin with. Not to mention it increases your costs exponentially.


New York

Living in a tent is nothing like living in a house that provides all the required facilities, except if you have a new high-tech tent that comes with all of the facilities that connect to the general sewage system, waste disposal system, clean water supply system, and more.


North Carolina

Within the Pisgah Ranger District, several disbursed roadside campsites are available and free of charge on an as-available basis. These campsites are located alongside gravel roads throughout the district, and include a parking area, tent pad, and fire ring. However, toilet facilities and drinking water are not available.


North Dakota Opens in a new tab.

The department shall have general supervision over the health, safety, sanitary conditions, and legal compliance as outlined in the chapter dedicated to mobile home parks, trailer parks, and campgrounds in the state. Authorities may promulgate and enforce appropriate rules and regulations in accordance with the rules of the state.

“All mobile home parks, trailer parks, and campgrounds constructed after July 1, 1977, must be constructed in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated at the time of construction.” 

As tents cannot be defined as mobile homes, choosing to live in one goes against North Dakota’s policies.


Ohio Opens in a new tab.

No person shall occupy any manufactured home on any premises in the City of Newark outside an approved manufactured home park without first obtaining a zoning permit for such use from the Zoning Inspector. The parking or storage of an unoccupied manufactured home shall not be permitted for more than ten days other than on a lot approved for sale of such units.



The owner or operator of the mobile home park shall be responsible for maintaining compliance with all sections of the county, state, and other pertinent laws and regulations about the use, operation, and maintenance of such mobile home park.



According to the law, ““To camp” means to set up, or to remain in or at a campsite, to establish or maintain a temporary place to live.

“Campsite” means any place where any bedding, sleeping bag, or other sleeping matter, or any stove or fire is placed, established, or maintained, whether or not such place incorporates the use of any tent, lean-to, shack, or any other structure, or any vehicle or part thereof.”

The violation of this Section is punishable, upon conviction, by a fine of no more than $100 by imprisonment for a period not to exceed 30 days, or both.



Primitive camping, sometimes also referred to as backpacking, is a true wilderness camping experience. Therefore, there are no modern conveniences, such as bathroom or shower facilities. You pack what you need to camp for the night.

To primitive camp in state forests or parks, you must obtain a camping permit if staying more than one night in an area located in a state forest, and make a reservation for a trail shelter in a state park.

Note that none of these accounts for living in a tent permanently.


Rhode Island

A camping unit is a portable structure, shelter, or vehicle designed and intended for temporal occupancy by persons engaged in recreational vehicle use or camping. The basic units include recreational vehicles, camping cabins, housekeeping cabins, tents, teepees, yurts, and other rental accommodations for the enjoyment of the outdoor experience.


South Carolina

Unlawful acts in state parks are defined in Title 51, Chapter 3, Section 145 of the 1976 Code of Laws of South Carolina.

Any person violating the provisions of this section of the law shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine or imprisonment.

To ensure that your state park experience is enjoyable, please be aware of the dynamic characteristics of the natural environment. Some areas may be potentially hazardous, so all visitors should exercise caution when visiting any state park. Anyone who is unsure about possible hazards should contact a park ranger.

The code of laws of South Carolina only covers registered campgrounds. Your home is not a recognized campground, which makes your activities in that location illegal.


South Dakota

Under South Dakota regulations, a campground is a plot of ground for public use upon which two or more campsites are located, established, maintained, advertised, or held out to the public to be a place where camping units can be located and occupied as temporary living quarters for children, adults, or both.

Camping units are considered to be trailers, tent campers, campers, tents, recreational park trailers, or other equipment that may be used by the public at individual campsites located at campgrounds or areas used by the public as campgrounds. This does not pertain to permanent dwelling in tents. Anything outside the scope of the law is termed unlawful.



No place or site within any political subdivision of the state of Tennessee shall be established or maintained by any person as an organized camp, unless the person holds a valid permit issued by the commissioner or a public health officer in the name of the person for the specific organized camp.

To engage in public camping, you are required to obtain certain permits. Unfortunately, they do not cover permanent dwelling.



According to the State of Texas, camping is an act of:

(A) temporarily occupying a designated camping facility;

(B) erecting a tent, or arranging bedding, or both, for the purpose of,

or in such a manner as will permit, remaining overnight; and/or

(C) using a trailer, camper, or other vehicle for the purpose of sleeping

during nighttime hours.

If you choose to camp on your private property, you must vacate the area for a specific period of time before setting up camp again. The moment you get carried away and stay for an extended period, the state government has every right to prosecute you.



In Utah, tent camping options are almost unlimited. Commercial campgrounds offering tent sites can be found in or near all of the largest cities and many small towns. All public campgrounds offer tent sites. Dozens of such campgrounds can be found clustered around recreation areas and distributed through national forests and other public land areas.

Note that these permissions are given to campers in designated campgrounds. You have no legal right to convert your neighborhood into a permanent campsite.



A campground means any lot of land containing more than three campsites occupied for temporary vacation or recreational purposes by camping units, such as tents, yurts, tepees, lean-tos, camping cabins, and recreational vehicles, including motor homes, folding camping trailers, conventional travel trailers, fifth-wheel travel trailers, truck campers, van campers, and conversion vehicles designed and used for travel, recreation, and camping.

Camping on legal grounds is legal in Vermont, but the moment you cross the line and set up a tent on your land, it puts you on the radar for breaking state laws.


Mobile homes have become an affordable choice for growing single families looking for more space. It’s also a great option for youth starting their independent life, away from their parent’s homes. The question is, can you put a mobile home in your backyard? Read our article to find out. 



Campgrounds refer to tourist camps, travel trailer camps, recreation camps, family campgrounds, camping resorts, camping communities, or any other area, place, parcel, or tract of land, by whatever name called, on which three or more campsites are occupied or intended for temporary occupancy, or facilities are established or maintained, wholly or in part, for the accommodation of camping units for periods of overnight or longer, whether the use of the campsites or facilities is granted gratuitously, by a rental fee, by lease, by conditional sale, or by covenants, restrictions and easements.

If you take things up a notch and try to convert your personal space into a tent zone, you might have issues with local authorities depending on the county you live in.



Many jurisdictions pass ordinances that make it illegal to camp on public property overnight. While these ordinances prohibiting camping on public property are valid, government entities should be mindful that individuals may have constitutional privacy rights in the contents of their campsites.

In Washington state, individuals have a right to privacy in their tents, whether on private or public grounds. Although, this does not make converting your land into a campground legal.


West Virginia

Camping is prohibited except at numbered sites in areas designated for camping. A non-family camping group may have only one camping unit (tent, trailer, motor home, camper van, etc.) on its campsite. A family camping group may be permitted to have one (1) or two (2) small tents on its campsite in addition to the main camping unit.



For every campsite in Wisconsin, there are rules and regulations that must be strictly adhered to. These rules help maintain sanity on campgrounds. If you take the camping to your private property, the campsite rules no longer apply to you as they only cover public camping areas. Your neighborhood laws would not apply to you either because technically, you cannot be categorized as a homeowner until there’s a home on your land.

This makes it outrightly illegal to turn your private land into a permanent tent zone.



In the event of a violation or threatened violation of any of the terms of this ordinance, the city may take appropriate action to enforce this ordinance, including application for injunctive relief, action to compel performance, or other appropriate action to court if necessary to prevent, restrain, correct, or abate such violations or threatened violations.

Upon motion, the court may award costs, disbursements, and reasonable attorney’s fees and witness fees, which costs and fees can be assessed against the property. In Wyoming, government officials have the jurisdiction to take up a case of possible violation concerning its town planning codes and regulations. Permanently living in a tent on prohibited grounds (your land) can be categorized as a violation.



Living in a tent on your land might seem harmless, but you should check the rule book of the U.S state you want to set up camp in and see whether or not the law permits you to do so. If not, it might be time to look for an alternative.

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