The craze for tiny homes is sweeping through the US, Canada, Australia and Britain as more people continue to search for affordable housing. While the trend is fairly new in the UK, it can be somewhat confusing to understand, especially where they fit into the current housing laws in the United Kingdom.
For starters, most tiny houses in the UK are uniquely designed and built to current UK specifications. To this end, you can be rest assured that they already meet the basic legalities. That said, you must have a detailed understanding of the laws and ensure you stick to them.
So, in today’s post, we will take some time to go through the following details, so you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law:
- Road legality (What is it)
- Planning laws (places you can and can’t park your home)
- Council tax (Are you expected to pay)
Understanding road legality
If you’re looking to buy a tiny home and enjoy all of the many benefits that come with living inside a 200-square foot home, especially in the UK, then you must be ready to make your tiny home-road legal. In the UK, this is a priority as you don’t want to be on the wrong side of the law.
To bring you up to speed on road legality as it concerns your tiny home, we will briefly look at sizing. To begin, for a tiny house to be road-legal in the UK, it shouldn’t be more than 2.55m wide. Additionally, it should be at least 7m in length as per the standard car license. So if you’re looking at buying a larger home, you may either want to choose a more permanent location or switch license to category C1E, which is perfect for medium-sized goods vehicles with trailers.
And even if you have a C1E license, your tiny home still needs to fit within the 2.55 mm width to be road legal. To this end, you have to ensure that your preferred company builds your tiny home to fit the legal sizing stipulated by laws in the UK.
Regarding getting a good builder to fit your tiny home within UK road laws, we doubt that should be a problem as most companies we have come across construct their homes to meet UK road laws. From building their homes on twin-axle trailers to using electrical brakes along with hand breaks, most tiny home builders go the extra mile to ensure their homes are equipped with dual safety chains- which by the way, is part of the legal requirements for trailers designed for loads over 750kg.
Weight is of the essence
Besides legal sizing, which is very important when it comes to tiny homes in the UK, there are also laid down regulations on how much weight you can tow. And guess what, this is determined by the date you passed your driving test. This will determine how much weight you can tow on a standard driving license.
For those who passed their driving test before the 1st of January 1997, the law allows you to tow a vehicle and trailer with a combined weight of up to 8250kg. On the flip side, if you passed your driving test after January 1997, you are only allowed to tow a trailer with a combined weight of not more than 3500kg.
If you’re interested in towing more weight than your current category B license allows, you have to apply for a C1E license, which allows holders to tow a combined weight of 12,000kg.
Besides weight and size, most UK housing laws as it pertains to tiny houses are rather limited. And until these caravan laws are changed, which unfortunately haven’t been visited since 1960, your tiny home should be fine on the road, so long it meets the size and weight specifications we mentioned above.
UK Planning laws and planning permission you should know
For those planning to park their new tiny homes at the back of their house we are happy to inform you that you can do so without planning permission. However, you have to ensure that the house doesn’t exceed 65 x 22 ft. And that’s because tiny homes in the UK are classed as caravans.
The only caveat when it comes to planning laws in the UK is that members within the household can only use the tiny home as an additional living space. What this means is that renting out the home is off the table.
Additionally, the tiny home cannot change the land it is parked on. Plus, it has to fit within the land it is sited on. Also, keep in mind that the house cannot be placed outside its designated spots, such as outside the house’s overall curtilage or gate. If you decide to do that, then you’ll have to get planning permission.
Again, if you’re planning to purchase or rent land to park your home, you’ll have to get planning permission, especially if you plan to keep your tiny home permanently on the property, just like you’d with traditional homes.
Of course, there are some grey areas regarding curtilage, especially for people who live on farms and plan to raise farm animals. That’s because tiny homes, in this case, are classed as dwellings for farmers. So if you plan to take this route and not require planning permission, we suggest you contact your local planning officer to see how he/she can help.
For other inquiries regarding planning permission, your best bet is to contact the local planning office and seek their advice. To be on the safer side, we suggest you get everything in writing as we have heard of cases where one planning officer gives the go-ahead for something- verbally, only for a new officer to completely rubbish the project.
Parking your tiny house in the UK: Unveiling the facts
We get asked a lot by tiny home enthusiasts where they can put their tiny houses in the UK, and today, we want to bring you up to speed on everything you need to know regarding that. As per tiny houses in the UK, there are many places to put your home legally. Here, check out some of them.
- Under permitted development rights, you can place your tiny home on a plot of land. Without permitted rights, you can only have it there for 28 days.
- You can place your tiny home within your garden if you have one.
- Because tiny homes are classed under the caravan rules and regulations, you can place them on a caravan site.
- Placing your tiny homes on land you’ve applied for planning permission within a residential district is legal.
- If your tiny home is built to set standards such as BS: E3632:2015, you can place it on a park home or residential home site.
- With planning permission approved, you can also site your tiny home on a glamping site, especially for holiday purposes.
Do you need to pay for council tax?
Whether you’re renting or buying land to park your tiny house, keep in mind that you’re required by law to pay council tax as the UK housing law considers that your tiny home is your permanent residence. On the contrary, if your tiny home is just your holiday home and you have a full-time residence somewhere else, you’re exempted from paying council tax.
And just like many UK housing laws, this too has its grey area. Should you decide to have your tiny home parked in your back garden, it isn’t considered a permanent dwelling; rather, the law sees it as an additional living space to be occupied by only members of your household. If that’s the case, you wouldn’t have to pay for council tax as the permanent residence is already council tax liable.
Note: While your tiny home is exempted from paying council tax for the period it stays on your property, this ceases to be the moment you move your tiny home to private land. You’re expected by law on private land to declare your new residence and pay council tax accordingly.
Tiny Houses: Are they legal in the UK?
As tiny houses continue to appeal to people looking for affordable housing as well as others looking for alternative lifestyles, there is concern about whether these homes are legal in the UK and today, we want to set the record straight.
When it comes to tiny homes in the UK, the law considers it as a caravan, especially if it isn’t on a trailer and it’s movable. On the contrary, if the tiny house isn’t fitted on, the law classifies it as a Shepherd’s Hut or granny annex.
That said, whatever classification it falls under, tiny homes in the UK are absolutely legal. The only thing you have to worry about is where you’ll place it, and this the law takes pretty seriously.
Like we mentioned above, for your tiny home to be considered a legal structure, you’ll have to apply for planning commission, especially if you have a tiny home that doesn’t have wheels.
Should your tiny home have wheels, and it’s fitted on a trailer, you’ll be able to live on the property in a few different situations legally:
- If the house is placed within the curtilage of your home and used as a temporary residence, not as the main dwelling, you should have no problems with the law.
- Permitted development allows tiny homeowners to park their tiny homes on their property, just like they would normally do with a caravan (there are some scenarios where this doesn’t work), such as when your land is close to a heritage site.
- Housing laws in the UK allow tiny homeowners to place their houses on caravan sites, on a glamping site or a park home site.
But before you get overly excited, keep in mind that things can get quite tricky and complicated with the myriads of planning issues surrounding tiny houses. That said, you should have peace of mind knowing that having and living within tiny houses in the UK is legal under many circumstances.
Frequently asked questions about Tiny House UK Laws
How tall can a tiny house be in the UK?
When it comes to building tiny houses in the UK, there are certain things you need to have at the back of your sleeves, and that includes the stipulated height. In terms of height, tiny houses in the UK must have a maximum height of 3.95 meters, which includes chassis.
Also, when placing your tiny home in the garden or grounds, there are a couple of ground rules you must observe, including ensuring that your tiny home has a 2m space from a boundary.
What is the minimum size house I can build?
As per the IRC codes, the smallest homes must be built on at least 320 square feet. That said, the minimum square footage for a home is around 120 square feet. Additionally, the law stipulates that at least one room on the property must be habitable.
How much do tiny houses go for in the UK?
With the tiny home movement getting bigger by the day, especially in the UK, where people are looking for affordable housing, we often get asked how much tiny homes cost and today, we want to bring you up to speed.
If you decide to build your tiny home yourself using a professional building plan, you should expect to spend around $27,500 ( (£20,000). On the other hand, if you plan to have a professional building company handle the project on your behalf, it could cost you between $60,000 to $70,000 (£50,000).
We sincerely hope today’s post has answered all the questions you have regarding UK laws as it concerns tiny homes. Should you need further clarifications regarding this, please feel free to reach out to us, and we will be happy to help.