RV Dwelling & Tiny House

An RV is a recreational vehicle designed to be used as temporary quarters for recreational, camping or travel use. RVs come in many forms such as 5th wheels, travel trailers, motor homes or campers and normally come from the factory with permanently affixed wheels. They are regulated under the BC Motor Vehicle Act. Park Models (see adjacent image) are a larger version also designed for use in RV parks or campgrounds. 

Although they sometimes appear similar to a manufactured home, they are not the same and do not comply with dwelling regulations.

This term is used interchangeably for different kinds of units, all sharing a small scale <400 sqft. They may be built to be portable, often on a flatbed trailer, and as such are similar to an RV (see above). 

Under TNRD bylaws, these are the same as trailers or RVs and do not meet the requirements of a dwelling (or cabin).

Alternatively, if constructed under an approved Building Permit in compliance with the BC Building Code (on a permanent foundation) connected to an approved septic field, they can serve as permanent or seasonal dwellings. 

Note: as TNRD Zoning Bylaw 2400 sets no minimum dwelling area, one can apply to build a house <400 sqft but the same submission and permit requirements apply as for a larger home, including HPO. See the Guide for more info: https://tnrd.civicweb.net/document/101400. 

No. 

In residential (including rural) zones, the Zoning and Building Bylaw require construction of a dwelling or installation of a manufactured home, meeting BC Building Code, CSA A277 MH or CSA Z-240 MH standards (manufactured homes aka mobiles or modulars), under an issued Building Permit.

An RV will have either a CSA Z-240 RV or CSA Z241 Park Model sticker, neither of which comply with the BC Building Code.

Unless specifically permitted by zoning (e.g. commercial campground zones), camping in an RV or tent is not a permitted use. Given the following example: you have a family reunion one long weekend and some teens sleep in a tent or RV in your yard, the TNRD has neither received complaints nor taken enforcement action in such a case.

The use of an RV as a dwelling has never been permitted; however, as fuel prices and RV size increase, there is an increase in the use of RVs as permanent (year round) and seasonal dwellings in rural areas. Many have their wheels removed as well as unlawful additions such as decks, roofs, and utility rooms constructed onto or adjacent the unit. Some even have a wood burning stove within the unit. 

The concerns include:

  • Environment: lack of filed/approved septic systems, often in proximity of lakes, watercourses, and wells
  • Equity: RVs are not an ‘improvement’ thus not taxed, so all other complying owners pay more
  • Safety: risk of fire from electrical overload or carbon monoxide poisoning are real and have led to deaths
  • Property value: RVs installed on neighbouring parcels reduce the value and sale potential of a residence
Other agencies which may have concerns and be involved include Interior Health, BC Assessment, Ministry of Environment, and the Agricultural Land Commission.

The TNRD takes these matters seriously and while we typically respond to on complaint basis, enforcement action may commence given no complaint. We routinely escalate to legal action through the courts if residents or property owners do not discontinue using RVs as dwellings. 

These Frequently Asked Questions are meant to assist and must not be construed by the reader as a right to a development approval. Consult BC legislation, codes, and applicable bylaws, especially local Building and Zoning bylaws, for full requirements, procedures, and policies.

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