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Is it Legal to Live in a Camper in Your Backyard in Lexington?


Wondering if it is legal for you to live in a camper in your backyard in Lexington? In Kentucky, this is a matter of local government law. Local governments pass zoning ordinances that detail how land may and may not be used. Zoning and land use ordinances have the force of law. 

In Lexington, it is unlawful to live in a camper in your yard in most areas. The legality can vary depending on how your property is zoned, but typical residential property zoning prohibits living in an RV in your yard. 

Why Can’t I Live in My RV in My Yard?

In Lexington, it is illegal to live in a camper in your yard because it is prohibited by the municipal code. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government Ordinance 18-129 states that it is “unlawful for any person to park a vehicle within the front yard, side yard, or back yard of any residential structure except upon an approved residential driveway.” 

This might make it seem like there is a loophole in the law if you live in the camper in your driveway. However, a property zoned “residential” only permits conforming land uses allowed under the law. 

There are five different single family zones in Lexington-Fayette County. Residential zones only allow for one single family detached residence. The zones each list permitted uses, but none mention campers. Under zoning law, any use not expressly permitted is prohibited. 

This means it is illegal to live in a camper in the yard in a single family zone. Therefore, you could receive a citation for living in an RV in a driveway. 

There are different regulations for different types of zoning, so be sure to check how your property is zoned.

What About HOA Regulations?

In addition to zoning ordinances, many residential communities are subject to Home Owner Association regulations (HOAs). These regulations frequently prohibit parking or living in a camper in a yard. 

HOAs are enforceable in court. They are similar to contract disputes. The HOA can put a lien on your property for unpaid fines just like the city can (discussed more below). 

Every HOA is different, so you should read through your HOA regulations to see how your camper will be treated by the community rules.

What is a Municipal Citation?

Violating a municipal ordinance can trigger a municipal citation. A municipal citation is more commonly referred to as a ticket. When it comes to zoning and land use issues, county citation officers are the typical enforcers. These officers do not have full police power, but they are authorized by the county to issue citations for violations of the municipal code. 

Municipal citations come with fines, and failure to fix the violation and pay the ticket can cause more severe penalties. 

If the first citation goes unpaid and the RV is not moved, the following escalating penalties could occur:

  • Additional citations, with steeply increasing fines
  • Interest on all unpaid fines
  • A lien on your property
  • A civil suit against you to collect the lien
  • Forced sale of the property by the government to pay the lien

A lien is a debt formally tied to a property in the public record. For example, a mortgage is actually a lien on a house. If a property is sold, the party holding the lien (the city or bank) must be paid before anyone else. Just like a mortgage in default, a lien can result in foreclosure on a property. 

What Should I Do if Fines Are Piling Up?

If you have fines piling up for living in a camper in your backyard in Lexington, Kentucky, you need to take action before things get worse. Zoning laws are complex; you can consult an experienced attorney for help resolving your citations.

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