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    Living in a converted van.

    Hope I'm posting in the right place, I'm looking for some advice concerning the legality of living in a motorhome parked on a residential property. Apologies if this has already been covered many times before.

    Due to financial reasons, I'm thinking of getting out of rented accomodation and moving into a converted transit van which will be parked in my parents driveway. As I understand it, caravans cannot be used as separate living accomodation while on residential property, only as an annex. My solution was to apply the same idea with a motorhome, since these aren't treated in the same class as caravans. As far as I know, there is no law prohibiting living in a vehicle, so in theory this seems like something I could legally do. Furthermore, to get around the issue of insurance, I thought it might be an idea to register the vehicle as SORN. Am I wrong about any of this? Is it something I could do without some officious jobsworth confiscating the van? I'll never be able to get on the property ladder as it stands, and the cost of rent is gobbling up money from my savings since I'm currently looking for work. Any advice you could give is very much appreciated.

    I can’t see that there would be any problem if you are on private property belonging to your parents and have their permission but I’m no legal expert. I suppose there could be a covenant on the property which some nosey neighbour might want to invoke so probably best to check the deeds of the house first.
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      I think you might well be fine but if a neighbour gets annoyed and reports you i can only think that the planning dept still has some hold. If no one here can help in in a definitive way there are other motorhome forums someone will know.
      Any way why cannot you living on your parents drive be counted as an annex you must access your parents house for services.
      I would think sorn is the way to go. Is the motorhome big? Is it expensive? If you are sorned you might still need vandalism fire and theft insurance? If your vehicle is not expensive, personally I would self insure that is not insure and bear the risk. That is not illegal if you do not leave the property


        If you are thinking about benefits. You would be at the same address as your parents, so living at home. Otherwise living in a motorhome is no fixed abode another potential can of worms. You really need a fixed abode.


          As Graham said you should first check if there are any covenants on the property - clue more usual in housing developments built since 1980.
          You are "playing" with planning law, the definition between parked (not reqiring any planning permissions) and permanent (requiring planning consents). I know of people who live in large American motorhomes which are "parked" in fields that they own - and the key arguments are the vehicle is merely parked there - it is capable of being elswhere and occassionally it goes elsewhere. If the field has water ("for livestock"), they can refill the MH tank but not use a hose to permanently connect to the supply etc.
          I disaree with other posters do not SORN I think you need the vehicle to be MoT'd, Taxed and Insured - then it cannot be said to be "permanent". It would also be best to use the 12v electrics and only use an extension lead and battery charger to recharge the leisure battery. Costwise Insurance Tax and annual test would be far lower than rent so you are still saving.
          On the technical side you would be advised to each week, run-up the engine for 20 minutes or so and move the van - this will prevent the brakes from binding and tyres "going square". Unused vehicles do deteriorate so you will need to be prepared to do some maintainance.

          Last edited by Pauline; 06-11-2017, 09:56. Reason: Edit to remove link. Please see forum rules :)


            The best example would be Miss Shepherd in Alan Bennetts 'Lady in The Van'. Well worth seeing. The only problem I can see is the possibilty of complaints from neighbours.
            Sesquipedalianism:-The overusage of long words.


              Good advice re checking restrictive covenants. We had one on our previous home (1991 build) which prevented any caravan, campervan, motorhome or boat being parked in the driveway. I was well aware of it but neighbours weren't, and there was even one person running a campervan conversion business from his driveway so I suspect he hadn't read it either. But... even if there is a restrictive covenant, it might not actually be possible to enforce it. It depends on the terms - in some cases, only the original developer/builder can enforce it but there are some which can be enforced by disgruntled neighbours and you would then be liable for their costs.

              Normally you can't live in a self-contained residential caravan unless you are sharing facilities with the house, ie a kitchen and/or bathroom and planners spotting occupied caravans can be quite keen on making spot checks.

              As far as I know, a motorhome has the same restrictions as a caravan. The house would need to provide the living facilities and the caravan/motorhome could only be an additional bedroom/annex.

              I had to do this myself for a couple of months when we moved house. I had a hook-up in the driveway until we had managed to move furniture etc which took 4 months to complete (DIY move by trailer while also caring for ill in-laws). Neighbours/council had no problem with this under the circumstances.

              I also know a person who lives full-time in their driveway (overnights only) while the house lies empty. There have been some very disgruntled neighbours and ongoing council involvement as the property was deteriorating resulting in threat of an ASBO.


                We are contemplating putting a semi-permanent shepherds hut or camping pod in our garden for use as an annex/guest bedroom. We really need to build an extension but cannot afford to do so at the moment and when we have guests staying it makes life very awkward. Having done some research on the subject, we are fine to do this provided we don't put in any sort of toilet. Guests must use the bathroom facilities in the main house to avoid any legal complications.

                I imagine the same would be true of staying in a van or caravan on a driveway
                Better a rainy day on the hill than a sunny day in the office!


                  I would have thought it would be best not to SORN - doing that would effectively lose the ability of the van to be treated as a vehicle, it becomes a caravan if it cannot be moved, surely?

                  All the people I know who live full time in their vans keep on the move. I do know one couple who live in a static caravan on land they have bought, but they are planning to build a house there so I think different rules apply.


                    Hi there,

                    I have looked in to something similar, as I am the proud owner of a quarter of an acre of old fenced off allotment that my grandfather owned. It has only ever been used as allotment land but hasn't been used as such for many years.

                    The family had lost interest in it and it hasn't yet become in the right area for building so it had become overgrown. I voluteered to take it on and just maintain it as a barren land until such time as other planning permissions venture in to the same area. I thought it might be nice to spend the summer months living in the Hettie onsite. The plan was just to park there and treat it literally as a car park, no water or electric hook-up, just using the the onbaord facilities, battery and portapotti and going to and from work each day.

                    Unfortuantely, believe it or not, I am only allowed to live on my own land for 28 days per year! Now, there are ways around this. For instance, I could start up a market garden or similar small business which would require me to be onsite for 24 hours per day, but essentially I can't just rock up and live in a camper or caravan on my own land. Shame really. I understand the reasoning behind it to a certain extent, but it still seems a bit sad to me.

                    I believe what some of the other posters have said is correct. You can live in a caravan or camper as an annexe to a dwelling provided that you share facilities with the house and have one meal per day in the house. But that it what you would have to do. Not just pretend that you do that.

                    As for insurance, I am not sure if the house insurers would need to know, but I suspect that you would not necessarily have to tax, insure or MOT the van. After all, you wouldn't necessarily do any of these things to a caravan on a drive. But that is up to you and your insurers. Your own van insurance may not cover you for full time dwelling in the van anyway, should you choose to continue to keep it road legal.

                    And of course, others have said that there may be covenants etc on the land preventing you from doing so anyway. And just because you are legally able to do something, doesn't necessarily make it fair or reasonable to do so. Would you really want to upset your parent's neighbours, if that was an issue?

                    Your local planning department should be able to advise you on all these matters.

                    Also this website have some very useful stuff on off-grid living.

                    Hope all this helps a bit.


                    These broken wings are gonna leave me here to stand my ground........


                      Many thanks for the helpful replies all, very much appreciated. will be looking into the property deeds issue since this seems to be the main obstacle. Fortunately my parents home is relatively secluded, so neighbours shouldn't be too much of a problem, but best to be sure. Insurance would seem to be worth investing in since this would really be my home, so maybe sorn might not be the best idea. Thanks everyone, all the best!


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