Living in a caravan UK law
One of the most searched queries in Google relating to caravans is the question of whether you are legally allowed to live in them. What is the law relating to this and what options do you have?
In this article, I will answer the questions you have which will guide you on any decisions you may make.
Why are people in the UK considering living in a touring caravan permanently?
There are a multitude of reasons as you would expect but the main driver appears to be financial. As the economy has suffered, so have people’s finances. The result is people looking at cheaper housing options that are viable. Caravans are a viable option. Relatively cheap to buy and in their eyes, a great option. Whether people are operating legally is a different matter but the law is clear on what is permissible.
Another reason is the flexibility it affords. It allows you to move to different locations and may be perfect for you if you need to move quite frequently. It is a lifestyle choice for many, something that fixed living does not allow.
So, let’s look at the detail. I will consider touring caravans first then move onto static caravans.
Can I live in a touring caravan?
Living in a touring caravan for some is a clear strategy, for others it is a source of desperation. There are various ways in which this point needs to be considered.
Firstly, we need to define what a touring caravan is. This is the basis in which the law operates.
Section 29 (1) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960 defined a caravan as…
‘Any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another (whether being towed, or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer)’.
It is quite obvious what a caravan is but the legal definition is important as that is what you are judged upon.
Can I live in a caravan parked on a street?
Simple answer…no. You are not allowed to inhabit them on a public highway. Parking a caravan on a street can be an issue in itself, something I considered in this article. Attempting to live in one will not get you very far once the council become aware…and they will.
Can you live permanently in a caravan park?
You cannot live full time on a caravan park. Caravan sites are not licensed to allow this to happen. That is not to say that it does not happen, some caravan site owners may turn a blind eye, especially if there is no enforcement of the rules. By the letter of the law, this is in breach of caravan sites planning permission.
Caravan sites are limited to 28 day stays (21 days for certified locations). They are designed and licenced to be short term. You therefore need to move out every 28 days, which may be an inconvenience, for 48 hours.
If you have a seasonal pitch, you can only stay for 21 to 28 consecutive days at which point you need to move of the site for 48 hours.
Issues you face when living in a caravan
Given that it is illegal to live full time in a touring caravan, you will likely face the following issues;
- Council tax
- Voter registration
- Council tax
- Registering for health services
To get access to banking services, you need to have a permanent residence. This is not possible if you are living out of a caravan. If you give them a friend or family members address as your address, this may have repercussions on them so be careful.
If you are insuring a car, you need to give a permanent address that it gets parked the majority of the time. This is not possible if you are living in a caravan. If you give somebody else’s address, you are not insured as your car insurance will be invalidated.
You will not be paying Council tax
Since they have no way to send you a bill as you are not in a permanent residence, essentially you will not be paying. Councils obviously take a dim view of those living in caravans in unauthorised places. If you are permanently residing in a caravan park, the owner may face tax issues.
You will have nowhere to register to vote. You have to register to a permanent address.
Doctors & Health services
These services require you to register and you have to show that you are a local resident or within their catchment area. If you are not living in a permanent residence, you cannot prove that you are and therefore not entitled…or guaranteed that you will get access to any services.
It will be more difficult to access benefits if you are not permanently resident in that locality and you cant prove you are. If you reside on a site, then you can.
Can I live in a caravan in my back garden?
Firstly, we need to establish whether you can put a caravan in your back garden. The answer is yes, but there are some conditions. It must be an annex to your house and must not be used as the main part. Obviously, there must be a main property.
The Caravan must be in the ‘Curtilage’ of the main house. The curtilage is the garden or drive, not any adjoining land.
It must not be rented. It is for use by family members and guests. If you plan on renting, you would need planning permission.
Can you claim benefits if you live in a caravan?
Yes, you can. If you on a site, you are entitled to the same benefits such as housing benefit and universal credit. This benefit goes towards both your rent and site fees. Even if you own your own mobile home, you can still get help for pitch fees.
Do I pay council tax if I live in a caravan?
It all depends if you have a pitch. Whether you pay is determined by the Valuation Agency office. If your pitch is determined to be council tax liable, then you will have to pay. This is not determined by the local council. The council tax bill will be sent by the council.
If you don’t have a pitch and are moving around, then no as there is nowhere the council can contact you to pay. There are consequences of this so be aware.
Renting out a caravan in your garden
The simple answer is no as it needs to be classed as a ‘dwelling-house’, which a caravan is not. This is under the Housing Act 1988.
You also need planning permission for a caravan site should you want to go this route. Again, it is unlikely that it will be feasible.
If for the purposes of Airbnb, it may be possible but you would have to make sure that it was not treated as a separate dwelling. It cannot be used as the main residence and you would have to allow access to the main dwelling for services. How you do this is up to you but essentially, you cannot offer the caravan as a standalone rental.
Living in a caravan on my own land?
It cannot be your main dwelling, it has to be classed as an annex. If it was your main dwelling, it would need to have planning permission. There are exceptions such as if you main dwelling is being constructed; you are allowed to live in a caravan on the site.
Can I live in a static caravan permanently?
It very much depends as with most these kinds of questions. Static caravans are increasingly being seen as a viable option for many people struggling to afford somewhere to live. These days, the quality of static homes is fantastic and essentially, they have the comfort and dynamics of a modern home.
Can you live in a static caravan permanently? Essentially no, lets look at the details.
Can I live in a static caravan all year?
If we are talking about holiday parks, then the same issue with touring caravan applies. You are not allowed to live year-round in a holiday park and most close for a number of weeks over winter. You are legally required to own or be renting a home in addition to the holiday home. It cannot be your only residence. Again, the issues of access to services such as banking, insurance, health and welfare would be applicable here.
Having said all this, many people do spend several months in the year essentially living in static caravans. However, they are operating within the law and not out of necessity.
Can I live in static caravan in my garden and living in a static caravan on private land?
The issues that you face in these circumstances is the same as the ones you would face with a touring caravan. There is no problem as long as it is annexed to your main dwelling. It cannot be a self-sufficient unit; it must need some reliance on the main dwelling.
It must be placed in your garden or drive…what is known as the ‘curtilage’ of your main dwelling. You will not need planning permission to do this.
There are some exceptions to these rules. Mainly, you are allowed to place a self-sufficient static caravan in place if you are building your main dwelling.
Take-aways on living in a caravan and UK law relating to it
- It must not be your main residence
- You cannot live in a caravan on your land without planning permission
- You garden caravan must only be guest accommodation or incidental to the main dwelling.
I hope you found this content useful and it answers your question on living in a caravan UK law. If you think that other people may find this useful, please consider sharing it on social media.
What do you think? Are these rules fair? Have you ever lived permanently in a caravan? Let me know in the comments below.
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