The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is one of the states in the United States where tiny homes are legal. Such houses include manufactured homes, mobile houses, recreational vehicles(RV), and tiny houses on a fixed foundation.
However, the ownership of this facility is heavily regulated under local zonal laws. This means that you cannot just erect a tiny house. You need to do so under the confines of these laws.
Depending on the structure, some rules and regulations include adhering to the building and zoning codes, construction specifications, safety laws, parking rules, and registration guidelines.
Recently, tiny homes have become a popular trend for people seeking an efficient living space.
So if you are considering a mobile-friendly home, affordable housing, or you want a tiny house as your first investment property, Massachusetts is an excellent place to start. But you have to be aware of the rules of the state.
This article will discuss the rules and regulations of tiny houses in Massachusetts, the counties where they are allowed, and specific laws guiding them.
Tiny homes were legalized in January 2020 after the adoption of Appendix Q, which stated the safety and building standards for tiny houses on foundations.
It was approved to be included in the 2018 International Residential Code to provide regulations and standards for tiny homes.
Appendix Q relaxes information as regards tiny homes, which are houses that are less than 400 square feet and used as single dwelling units.
But these laws are further broken down by every county, city, and town in the state. And it is expected of you to abide by them.
Below is a list of some counties in Massachusetts that allow tiny houses:
Nantucket has passed a bylaw approving buildings less than 500 feet in some districts.
The county allows tiny houses on wheels, provided they fall under the description stated in the Zoning ByLaw 139, which defines a tiny house as a detached structure containing a dwelling unit less than 500 feet constructed on a moveable trailer meant to be attached to a foundation.
This county allows tiny houses, particularly accessory dwelling units and detached ADUs.
However, specific laws guide its construction as provided in § 240-47.2 Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), including that only one ADU may be created per lot, it shall not contain more than two bedrooms, and once the ADU has been added to a single-family dwelling, it should not be enlarged.
The ADU can be used only as a rental, and the house owner may reside in the ADU while renting the principal dwelling. But the rental period for an ADU and principal dwelling shall not be shorter than 12 consecutive months.
Berkshire county allows the construction of tiny houses if it meets the county's requirements and is certified by the Building Inspector.
In towns such as Great Barrington, their Special Residential allow ADUs in every district provided they abide by the § 8.2Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) rule.
ADUs are allowed in Middlesex county. However, the main house must be occupied by the owner, and both units must belong to the same person. Tiny houses on foundations are allowed as the main house dwelling.
In this county, tiny houses have been approved under the ordinance passed by the Greenfield City Council. But it must be occupied by the property owner and not rented out to a tenant.
Yes, you can live permanently in a tiny house in Massachusetts used as a single dwelling unit, provided it follows the standards and rules stated in Appendix Q.
However, some towns have not approved this to be zoned as a single-family residence because they view it unsuitable for permanent living.
In towns like Cheshire, you can permanently live in a mobile home, but the rule only applies to some districts. However, living full-time in an RV is not approved in R-1 districts.
Long-term living in a trailer, mobile home, or RV is allowed in A-R and B districts with a permit from the city council.
In Southborough, you can use a mobile home as a permanent dwelling, but you have to get permission from the city council.
According to Appendix Q, a dwelling considered a tiny house should be 400 square feet or less in floor areas.
If it sounds too small, don't worry. There are tips you can utilize to organize your tiny space and maximize its full potential. But first, you must stick to the rule designated by the state. It should not be more than the recommended size.
There are varying rules and regulations regarding tiny houses in this state, which apply to the structural requirements.
The following are some of the rules of permanent structures for a tiny house:
Building a tiny house can be very challenging. But once you know the required structure measurement of Massachusetts, some available resources will help you with the building layout, materials to use, and floor plan.
If you are considering getting a tiny house on wheels, RVs, or a mobile home for your vacation or recreational purposes, here are the rules for such a temporary facility:
Transitional structures in Massachusetts are usually safe living spaces for the homeless and people with certain issues. However, the rules of this structure are not explicitly stated by the government.
You can build your tiny house in a new or existing detached building accessory in towns, such as Great Barrington and Barnstable, that allow ADUs.
Also, there are tiny house communities where you can erect your tiny house.
The property tax for traditional houses does not apply to tiny houses, but if your house is on a permanent foundation on the land you own, it is considered real estate. In this case, you have to pay property taxes.
But mobile houses without personal property are exempt. However, you must pay personal property taxes for the vehicle if you have an RV.
Mobile homes situated in a licensed manufactured housing community are not to pay local taxes but pay a monthly occupancy fee to the community operator.
Recreational Vehicles or mobile homes in some cities can only be situated in areas mapped out for them. There are designated areas such as campgrounds, RV parks, and resorts in Massachusetts where you can park your tiny home.
Alternatively, you can park it in your backyard as your accessory dwelling, depending on the laws of the city.
For instance, in Great Barrington, you are permitted to park a tiny house on wheels in your backyard.
But if this option is not available, here is a list of places you can park your tiny house in Massachusetts:
There are mobile/ manufactured homes in a licensed manufactured housing community designated for permanent living in Massachusetts.
Here are some of them:
Located in the downtown area of Northampton, Massachusetts, this community comprises 28 homes and is surrounded by wooded conservation land.
It has a variety of unit sizes, types, and prices. The members designed this community based on shared values and desire for healthy living, personal growth, and eco-friendly practices.
Hillcrest is a mobile home community located in Rockland, MA, for people of all ages.
The community is family-oriented, and several natural attractions are close to the dwelling. It is owned by the community members who are residents in that area.
This community is located in the Boston Metro Area and is also for people of all ages. It offers a small-town feel for individuals who desire this kind of close-knit living.
It also provides conveniences available in a big city. It is a safe and quiet place for people who want to live far away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
In Massachusetts, a tiny home is a house of 400 square feet or less in floor areas. The rules and regulations of tiny houses in this state include adhering to the building and zoning codes, construction specifications, safety laws, parking rules, and registration guidelines.
If you're considering getting your own tiny house, you should know the regulations guiding your city of choice.
Ready to embark on your tiny homeownership journey? Visit Tiny House for all information about the best tiny homes, building plans, materials, suppliers, and consultation opportunities.