Rules that guide living in a tiny home on wheels differ from one area to the other. The rules differ in strictness from one place to another . California has its own rules and regulations too for those interested in living in tiny homes there. 

Research what the regulations are about entry into the many tiny home communities. You may have noticed this type of community in RV parks and campgrounds. This article provides information on regulations regarding tiny homes on wheels in California. 

Tiny Homes: Are Legal In California? 

Yes, they are legal in California. However, you need to follow the rules that will accord your tiny home a legal status. Two basic rules you must follow for your tiny home to be legal are: 

  • you must acquire a special use permit 
  • Or connect your tiny home to an RV park

To get your own special use permit you have to visit the office of the planning department of your particular city. 

You usually would have to fill out an application form which is issued by that office. Then you are invited for a public hearing. 

Upon your approval for a special use permit you are instructed on what restrictions to follow. For instance you will be told the size of the lot to maintain, and the distance your tiny home must be from the property line. 

Counties That Allow Tiny Houses on wheels In California

Many now prefer tiny homes. The truth is not all counties are accepting of tiny homes in California. Here are some counties you can count on to accept your application:

Los Angeles

The county of Los Angeles will allow you to site your tiny home if you follow the rules on home size and setback from property line. You will be allowed Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) status. 


The county of Fresno has the same requirements as Los Angeles with only a little layer of strictness. They also allow tiny homes as ADUs. 

Santa Cruz

This county is a little more welcoming in that you can site your tiny house on wheels in any district as long as you do in accord with the California Building Code. 

California City

California City allows tiny homes but with strict rules when your house is allowed as ADUs. 

San Luis Obispo

Here your tiny house is allowed too provided you follow the rules regarding size and setbacks. 

Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbara they allow tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) in all the districts as long as you follow California Building Code.

San Diego

Here your tiny house is allowed as ADUs and also can be accorded rights of Houses On Wheels (THOWs). You still have to be guided by the California Building Code.

Can You Permanently Leave In A Tiny House In California?

Yes, this is allowed in California. You won’t be the first to do this as communities of tiny homes are now everywhere. You need to bear two things in mind:

Your Tiny House Must Meet Codes

You must be familiar with the requirements of the California Building Code and make sure your tiny house meets these requirements when it comes to size. After this, decide whether you want to put your house on your own property or in RV parks. 

Prepare For The Cost

You would need to think about raising finance for expenses after building. You need utilities, insurance, haulage and so forth. If you have a mortgage it can be easier for you. 

Living permanently in a tiny house in California is very possible and can be quite easy if you are prepared to meet the requirements. 

How Tiny Can A House Be In California?

The size of your tiny house would depend on the zoning regulations of the city, county where you chose to build your tiny house. You can find the exact size for your target city or county in their local ordinances.  Speaking generally, a 100 square foot is acceptable for the interior. 

You would have to be mindful of restrictions as to the minimum unit size prescribed. The building code of California has the minimum square foot required of houses. 

In the end, the information contained in the relevant rules and regulations will guide what you do. 

Rules And Regulations For Tiny Houses In California

The California Building Standards Commission sets the standard you are to follow when building your own tiny house. The rules are:

  • Ceiling must be at least 7 feet 6 inches high
  • At least one room must be 120 square feet wide
  • Other rooms must be at least 70 square feet wide

There must be ventilation, emergency exits, plumbing, smoke detector and so forth. 

Rules For Permanent Structures

All buildings in this category must meet the requirements of all local building ordinances and must also be connected to sewer, water and electricity utilities. 

Rules For Temporary Tiny Houses

You can’t move from a spot until you’ve stayed there for two weeks. 

You need a permit to park your THOW in your backyard. There will be variations depending on your local government regulations. 

After getting the permit you are allowed to park your THOW on your property for 180 days. 

You can also get permission to build your tiny home on a foundation like a normal home. 

Rules For Transitional Structures 

This refers to houses on wheels. They must be built following California Vehicle Code. If not connected to utilities, the house can only be used for 180 days. They must not be primary residents. If you want to live in one on your property you need a permit. The building would have to be inspected by the local building department. 

Where Can I Build A Tiny House In California? 

You can build in: 

  • your backyard
  • A vacant land 
  • Campground or RV park
  • Tiny House community

Do I Have To Pay Property Taxes For My Tiny House?

Yes, you have to pay a tax. Also it depends on the county laws. But if you’re renting a land you won’t have to pay a tax on your home. Your property may be taxable. 

Where Can I Park A Tiny Home In California?

You can park in the following places: 

  • Private Parking 

You can park your tiny house on wheels on private property that belongs to a family or friend with their permission. Such spots include open space in the backyard, driveway, or a lot by the house

  • Farms or Tiny house Communities 

Farms are ideal places to park because you have access to water and electricity. It is the same with tiny house communities. You may have to pay monthly rents. 

  • RV parks

If you have the funds you can use RV parks in California as they can be expensive. There’s also provision for water and electricity here too. 

Are There Tiny Home Communities In California?

There are tiny home communities in Joshua Tree, there’s the Modesto and Fresno Tiny House Community. There are smaller ones sprinkled around the state. If you’re looking for a modest living, California is a great place to start. 


Bear in mind that you must meet the safety and construction requirements for tiny homes on wheels in the county or state. Your tiny home must be registered with California, pay property tax. Checking with local authorities will ensure you do the right thing.