We have previously discussed on our blog the tiny house movement and the possibility of this growing trend ameliorating the shortage of affordable housing in the Sunshine State. The second annual Florida Tiny House Festival took place in Elkton (near St. Augustine) last month. The festival was held by the United Tiny House Association and featured dozens of tiny houses as well as workshops and house tours. Tiny houses are affordable, minimalist housing options, and tend to be more environmentally friendly including by having a smaller footprint and consuming less energy than a traditional house. However, many local governments do not recognize tiny houses in their zoning codes, posing challenges for people who would like to downsize to a tiny home. If a tiny home is mobile such as on a flatbed truck, it may be categorized as a mobile home or a recreational vehicle and therefore allowed in RV parks. But whether or not tiny homes are legal – and where in a community they are allowed, if anywhere – depends on the applicable zoning code.
Certain communities, such as Rockledge, have passed ordinances to allow for tiny houses in their jurisdiction. Rockledge defines a tiny home as a principal residential dwelling that is between 170 and 1,100 square feet, with ceiling heights of at least 7 feet. The minimum width is 8.5 feet and the maximum width is 20 feet. They are permitted within the redevelopment mixed use district (RMU) or a planned unit development (PUD) as a “pocket neighborhood,” which must have between 4 and 12 tiny homes and a central, common area. The ordinance also sets forth other requirements for tiny houses in pocket neighborhoods including minimum lot areas and setbacks. Rockledge’s ordinance also allows for Tiny Houses on Wheels (THOWs), for which building permits will be issued if certain requirements are met including that the THOW is built on a trailer that is registered with the local DMV; is towable, but cannot move by its own power; and has at least 170 square feet of first floor interior living space, but is no larger than allowed by state law. Rockledge’s tiny house regulations have been hailed as a model and are available here.