Let an acquaintance live in an RV in our driveway?
November 8, 2017 9:32 AM   Subscribe

My husband and I are considering letting an acquaintance & her daughter (we have mutual friends) park her RV in our driveway and live there for six months to a year in order for them to save some money. We want to help her out, but we don't want to put ourselves in a bad situation. What should we be thinking about before saying yes or no to this arrangement?

Other details:
- We rent our house. We've never had a problem with our landlords in the 3+ years we've been here, and they seem very content to just have our check show up in the mail every month without any other interaction. There's nothing in our lease which addresses this sort of situation. We do not plan to check with them first, and if they drive by and ask about the RV (doubtful), we'd say that we're storing it for a friend.
- We live in the Bay Area, where the COL is out of control. She's a single mom to an elementary aged girl, and rent increases along with some other expenses that she couldn't have planned for have made it hard for her to make ends meet. She has a reasonable plan to solve this issue in the next year or so.
- Our neighbors are friendly and progressive (we'll check with them before saying yes to this arrangement) and will almost certainly have no concerns about this.
- We do use our driveway, but we feel that the value of helping out this mom and her kid are worth the inconvenience of dealing with the (pretty easy) street parking in our neighborhood.
- We will not be taking cash payment for this (she offered a nominal amount), other than for the increase in electricity from the RV (it'll be plugged in so that the generator doesn't have to be run).
- We will probably accept a bit of help with yard upkeep & maybe babysitting our toddler a couple times a month as payment.

Thoughts, Metafilter?
posted by Jaclyn to Human Relations (58 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This might be illegal.
You may not be zoned for this use, check your city + county laws about this.
posted by msamye at 9:38 AM on November 8, 2017 [27 favorites]

It's generous of you. I'd approach it by writing out an MOU (memorandum of understanding) which would probably be legally nonbinding but is something you can refer to as an agreement.

She has a reasonable plan to solve this issue in the next year or so.

Consider putting a time limit and review point in here. The plan might not work out. So, if you began with an agreement of six months, you can sit down and review the agreement at the end of six months and see if the plan is really progressing. Spell out what happens if it hasn't - do they have to move on? Can they get an extension?

Also consider spelling out exactly how much yard work/babysitting you would expect. That could become exploitive or make for mismatched expectations if you don't both discuss what you think is reasonable.

In your shoes, I'd be definitely worried about both neighbors and landlords reporting this or making legal trouble, but YMMV in the local context.
posted by Miko at 9:38 AM on November 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

1) Do you have any HOA or other rules preventing even parking an RV in your driveway? Some are very very particular about this. Even if it's not in the lease, if the house is part of an HOA, this could cause problems.
2) The electricity that you will get to the RV from your home will only be 15amp. Most RVs take 30A (or 50A, for bigger RVs). She will not be able to power the AC, etc with only 15amps. Power management will be crucial.
3) Where will she dump her black and grey tanks? Depending on the size of RV, and whether or not they are also coming inside to borrow your bathroom for showers, etc, they will probably be needing to dump every few days or so. The RV needs to stay mobile for this, obviously.
4) Do you have an outdoor hose to refill the water tanks, or will they be using bottled water from elsewhere?
posted by cgg at 9:38 AM on November 8, 2017 [24 favorites]

Water should also be considered, in addition to electricity. Occasional indoor shower usage? Depending on the age of the RV, the plumbing in those things is not the most reliable. Does she have a plan for how often/by whom she's going to get the tanks pumped? If they're going to be there for a year, this will happen. Insurance? What happens if a tree falls on the RV or (more likely) it gets broken into? It's on your property, so technically it would fall under your renters' insurance or your landlord's homeowners'. I'd want to make sure your acquaintance had a pretty comprehensive separate policy.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 9:38 AM on November 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

Think about setting very clear rules about access to the house. I assume they're going to be using your bathroom? If so, can they get in/out without bothering you? Will they also have access to your kitchen etc.? Will you find them hanging out on your couch?
posted by craven_morhead at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

Not sure about the social/financial aspects, but check local ordinances to be sure this isn't prohibited by your city, county, or any other relevant authority (HOA, etc.)
posted by asperity at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

This sounds like it has the potential to become a larger burden than you are anticipating - e.g., they start using your house/your stuff, they stay longer than you expect, they run into other difficulties (like money) and they need more help. None of that is to say you shouldn't do it - and you are very generous to do it and I admire that! - but you should be clear-eyed about the potential for "assistance creep" that may ensue.
posted by Mid at 9:42 AM on November 8, 2017 [14 favorites]

Is it legal? If the bylaw allows recreational vehicles to be stored on driveways with the setback you have storage does not equal legal living unit. Your landlord may be able to break your lease if you are breaking the law.

You are planning to talk to your immediate neighbours, but sometimes people get possessive about their neighbourhoods and call bylaw enforcement about something they perceive affecting property values/safety. Are there other RVs parked in driveways with people living in them? Or is your neighbourhood more of a life and let live kinda place?

How comfortable are you with conflict/setting boundaries? Because I can imagine a million different ways for this to go wrong that would require you to either accept consequences for their decisions or else lay out firm boundaries (like literally kicking them out).
posted by saucysault at 9:47 AM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Just be mindful that this experience will not go any better than you currently think it will go. It may not go any worse, but it won't go any better. Right now, everyone is on their best behavior and optimistic about this arrangement. I think something like the MOU that Miko suggests is a way to set clear boundaries; by setting those boundaries now (when everyone is optimistic about the arrangements), you have something to refer back to later (when maybe not everything has gone according to plan). Be specific in that MOU - spell out how the electricity costs will be calculated, describe expected access to your house (if any), put specific dates as to when you will revisit the arrangement, etc.

This is all, of course, if you decide to do it. As others have said, there may be good reasons not to do this. I'll just say that I think that doing this without your landlord's explicit approval is a bad idea.
posted by Betelgeuse at 9:47 AM on November 8, 2017 [8 favorites]

A few additional suggestions -- in your MOU, require that the RV be maintained in working order, registered, insured and be moved periodically. You don't want a situation where she is unable to relocate because her vehicle is no longer mobile.

I suggest making the arrangement monthly with a 15-30 day notice from you if the arrangement isn't working out. You may also want to charge a nominal fee for rent. If you were feeling particularly altruistic, you could save this fee and return it to her when she moves out as some helpful capital. Having some money change hands will also help to formalize the agreement.
posted by countrymod at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

nthing that you need to check if this is legal in your area. In Seattle there is a big crackdown on RV parking because drug addicts/dealers are living in them and creating a mess.
posted by joan_holloway at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a well-meaning but ill-considered idea.

- Regardless of what it says in the lease, you must notify your landlord. You are effectively subletting part of their property, and that impacts concerns about liability, insurance, occupancy, rent, and so forth. Every lease I have ever signed has some section on guests and subletters; I'm very surprised that yours doesn't.

- You need to check on whether this violates any local or state ordinances.

- You need to sort out insurance and liability. What happens if her daughter trips on a divot in the driveway and breaks her arm? What if a branch from a tree on the property falls on the RV?

- You need to have some kind of formal agreement regarding expectations on both sides. Again, this is basically a subletting situation. What kind of access will she have to the house, electricity, water, garbage, etc.? How long will she be staying?
posted by googly at 9:49 AM on November 8, 2017 [48 favorites]

We've never had a problem with our landlords in the 3+ years we've been here

You’re about to.
posted by zippy at 9:51 AM on November 8, 2017 [141 favorites]

I'll just mention that, if you're already planning what the lie to the authorities will be ('we're just storing it for a friend') then on some level you know that this has the potential to blow up hugely.
posted by Ausamor at 9:56 AM on November 8, 2017 [35 favorites]

You might want to watch this film first....
posted by Hanuman1960 at 9:57 AM on November 8, 2017


this is probably not a good idea.

but we don't want to put ourselves in a bad situation.

there are just so, so many ways this could go sideways. tell them your landlord expressly forbid you to do this and enjoy the breeze from the bullet you just dodged.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:59 AM on November 8, 2017 [39 favorites]

I notice that you describe the mother as an acquaintance rather than a friend. You want to be helpful but not to the point of creating a bad situation for yourself. I have done this five or six times over the last 40 years, with people who ranged from close friends to acquaintances. It NEVER ended with them solving their financial issue and moving out, thankful for my help. It ALWAYS ended with me asking them to leave. It was worse with the acquaintances than with the friends, but I have to say that only the closest friend actually stayed a friend. The answers here so far tend to support the idea that this will be more complicated and probably messier than you expect. It has an open-ended time frame of more than a year. Please be very careful. Small issues you may not even be thinking about today can loom large after a few months. And I owned my house — there is, as seen above, lots more potential for trouble when you're renting.
posted by ubiquity at 10:03 AM on November 8, 2017 [41 favorites]

Could you maybe get together with your friends and rent a campsite for them?
posted by amtho at 10:05 AM on November 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

Not clearing it with your landlord first is a really bad idea.
posted by mattsweaters at 10:08 AM on November 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

Other things to think about: Will she also have a car that needs to be parked somewhere? Will they want to do laundry in your house?

I know that if a neighbor of mine, even further down the street had an RV camped in their driveway, I'd start to consider it an eyesore after a few weeks. Not sure I'd make a complaint, but if there was anything else to complain about, I'd probably add that on...

If you owned your house, you'd be on better standing, but I'm concerned about the fact that you're renting.
posted by hydra77 at 10:09 AM on November 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

My sister and brother-in-law did this for a couple they know. The differences are that the husband was a close friend, they own their property, which is secluded so it was not obvious they were doing this, and they have no near neighbors. The situation lasted longer than expected, they eventually had to give them a deadline to move, and also had to help them move. The people cautioning you about this are correct. The fact that you are renting is reason enough not to do this unless your landlord would be on board.
posted by gudrun at 10:14 AM on November 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

You should really check whether it's legal before you consider doing this.
posted by Lexica at 10:16 AM on November 8, 2017

I agree with the posters above citing concerns about your renting situation. Given that the COL is out of control in the Bay Area, are you willing to be evicted and have to find a new place? Rents have gone up astronomically in the 3 years since you've lived there. Can you afford to deal an eviction, which is the worst case scenario? You're giving the landlord a reason to evict you and take on a new renter, which would likely earn them more money in rent. They have no reason to keep you guys as renters, no matter how good of a tenant you are.

IMHO you're putting yourself in a precarious situation by helping this person out. Personally, I wouldn't do it unless I owned the house, as gudrun says.
posted by onecircleaday at 10:20 AM on November 8, 2017 [12 favorites]

You are so lucky that you are renting. Use prize bull octorok's advice above and tell them it's impossible due to your landlord. It's almost certain you don't even need to check with your landlord first, even if you were going to bother.
posted by tillsbury at 10:27 AM on November 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

Don't do this. They can rent in an RV park. The end. Review the parable of the Arab and his camel.
posted by Oyéah at 10:28 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Please note that folks here are not advising you to be selfish. They are pointing out that it's going to go sideways at some point, the landlord's going to evict or not renew you, and then the other person's adrift again anyway, with the added bonus that now you're shafted too.
posted by turkeybrain at 10:31 AM on November 8, 2017 [30 favorites]

No. Don't do this. You are setting yourself up to be screwed on so many levels.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 10:32 AM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Does the person understand the need to properly dispose of waste? RVs need to have graywater disposal, not a really big deal, but also Black Water from the toilet. It will be a regular task, and cannot be ignored.

RVs need smoke and carbon monoxide detectors like any other home. Lots of RV/ van dwellers do not deal with this. What will be used for heat and AC?

Make sure you want this person as a quasi-roommate.

Set a hard time limit. Easier to extend it than ask a person to leave early.

Try it for a month. Then see how you feel.
posted by theora55 at 10:32 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

This is likely illegal, for very good reasons, and for those reasons doesn't need to be stipulated in your lease. You most probably do not have the proper electrical and water hookups to provide power and water to an RV. This can be a huge fire hazard, and generally a giant code problem (which, can turn your awesome, chill relationship with your landlord quite sour, quite quickly). Relying on 'telling them you're storing an RV for a friend' is problematic; lived-in RV's are obvious and can cause you problems.

Depending on the details, this can do things like; void your renters/homewoners insurance, void your lease, generally open you up to incredible liability, alienate those previously rad progressive neighbors and cause a load of headache for yourself.

This will not end well. This will not end well. This will not end well.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:34 AM on November 8, 2017 [22 favorites]

It's lovely of you to be concerned for these folks but this property isn't really yours to be allocating. It's your landlord's, and you obviously know in your heart that your landlord is going to be against it since you're already being shifty about telling them the truth.

Why would you want to give your landlord a great reason to get rid of you, when you know that they probably could easily find a tenant to pay more than you pay, if your rate is three years old?
posted by fingersandtoes at 10:36 AM on November 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

This is very generous and kind of you. But it's almost certainly illegal under the zoning laws. On the other hand, the streets of Bay Area towns are lined with hundreds of RVs with people living in them, and there has been little to no enforcement by the police. Sometimes they are asked to move the vehicle a few feet every 48 hours, but very few have been towed, etc. I'm sure the neighbors would rather have this RV in someone's driveway than in the street creating a visibility hazard and reducing street parking - given the alternative, it's possible that no one will complain.

Your landlord may object, and as others have said, you may be evicted over it. And the electricity and waste dumping issues may be more complicated than you expect.

Can you connect this person with local charities that focus on housing/homelessness issues? Otherwise, the unfortunate reality may be that this person has been priced out of the Bay Area and should be relocating somewhere with a not-insane cost of living. It's really a terrible place to live unless you have $$$$$.
posted by Mallenroh at 10:41 AM on November 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

We rent our house.

Boom. No.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:57 AM on November 8, 2017 [20 favorites]

I would do this, knowing full well it's going to go badly, if I owned the house.
Renting makes this tough, unless you don't mind moving.
posted by bongo_x at 11:05 AM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

another vote for "this is a kind but ultimately terrible idea".
posted by poffin boffin at 11:15 AM on November 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Renting? No. Bad idea. Terrible idea.
Not telling your Landlord? HORRIBLE idea. Spectacularly so.
Not a close friend? I'd be nervous.

No plan (or seeming awareness) of the logistics of RV living - Also a black mark.
Black tank emptying once a week, grey tank emptying maybe every 5 days if they are frugal with water, and that is assuming they have a water supply from your house (is that an additional cost to you?). You can run an RV on a 15A standard extension cable without any problem as long as you don't use any air conditioning or a large electrical heater (or more than one).

No knowledge of legality? I'd be nervous.

CONTEXT: I live in an RV and have done for 2 1/3 years. I have lived on people's driveways for short periods, and I'd only ever consider it if I wasn't inconveniencing them, and they owned their home and couldn't get screwed through my presence. It is not a small 'just park on the driveway and live there' thing that you seem to be hoping it is.

There will be RV parks near you that are cheaper than a place and potentially even affordable. It'd actually be easier and more sensible for her to just find an RV park that she can deal with and get a space there. Hell, even boondocking during the week and the occasional night at an RV park would be smarter.
posted by Brockles at 11:24 AM on November 8, 2017 [11 favorites]

If this is a property on a large lot with a long driveway, out of sight of neighbours, then you might get away with it. But if it's a normal suburban street with a 30ft drive, it'll quickly become an annoyance to the neighbours - maybe not your immediate neighbours who might be cool with it (for a while anyway), but others in the street.

Then you'll get the phone call from the landlord, in which you lie about "storing the RV for a friend", followed by an eviction notice.

If you're wiling to take the risk of losing your home, then by all means do it. But the pitfalls far outweigh the benefits, for all the reasons given above.
posted by essexjan at 11:26 AM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

You should only proceed with this plan if there's room for you and your husband in that RV after you get evicted.

Here let's do a pros-cons list.

- you briefly helped out someone you don't know that well

- you are now also homeless
posted by slagheap at 11:31 AM on November 8, 2017 [11 favorites]

I admire your big heart, but I personally go by an ethical rule that if I feel like I can’t tell someone about something I’m doing (I.e. your landlord) then it’s a flag that I should slow down and consider the ethics.

My view is that the spirit of a lease is that you use the property in about the way it was clearly intended. An extra person for a few weeks, no big deal. Setting up a whole other home on the property with all the liability issues and costs involved (power, water) — I don’t think this is right.
posted by warriorqueen at 11:37 AM on November 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

It's almost certainly illegal and San Jose is actively looking for illegal use of RVs for living space. The rest of the bay area is probably similar.

You are probably being very optimistic about how your neighbors will perceive this, especially once noisy and smelly pump services start frequenting your neighborhood. And it only takes one to complain. A lot of people are non-confrontational and even if they agree to it at the outset may find it easier to send off an anonymous complaint that they can deny culpability for than have to tell you face to face to kick someone out.

It is great that you want to help out someone in need, but as everyone else has said, you're risking eviction.
posted by Candleman at 11:41 AM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

You rent. This is a non-starter.

I’m sorry, I think it’s a very very kind thing to want to do but it’s not going to work for any landlord.
posted by lydhre at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

It would almost certainly be less trouble to just let them live in your house rent-free, without telling your landlord. That's a ludicrous thing to have to say, but here we are.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2017 [22 favorites]

Have you seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation? "Shitter's full". But seriously, your driveway is not zoned for an additional living unit, you aren't going to get approval from your local construction department for a permanent connection between the house and the RV, and I can almost guarantee your neighbors are not going to be cool with an RV parked in your driveway.

What happens if the wire overheats and starts a fire? Your landlord's homeowers' insurance is not going to cover that. How are they going to handle bathroom stuff? Water? Just because someone's having a problem doesn't mean you need to put your own financial security at risk. Let 'em move in with you if the landlord is OK with subletting - with a lease & everything , or put away a chunk of change and anonymously donate it to them.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Could you pay the cost of an RV Park for them? If they did stay in your driveway you’d have to pay for the extra electricity and water that will be inevitably consumed, plus whatever other costs (would you have to pay to park elsewhere, etc.) Maybe just pay the park fees for x months and accept y days per week of babysitting in return. Make it official with dates and numbers even if that’s just a hand written thing, to make it feel less like charity and more like a contract.
posted by cabingirl at 1:04 PM on November 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

On my street, there was an RV parked, and the neighbors got so annoyed about the generator noise that they were trying to call the city about it. Some neighbor you don't know is probably going to get bothered and call your landlord to complain. Neighbors will notice and report seeing someone coming in and out every day, so the "storing it for a friend" story won't work.

Your landlord will have options that include everything from calling you to ask "what's up with that?" to (depending on your lease and jurisdiction) sending you a "3 day notice" to get them out or be evicted yourselves. It might be a better idea to connect them with your landlord and see if she would rent them the driveway for a small fee.

By the way, how will septic and garbage removal be handled? (In Oakland, garbage fees are per unit, so if Waste Management finds out, that's something like $90/month.) What about when they want to have a party?

I admire your desire to help, but this sounds like it might be a very bad idea.
posted by slidell at 1:05 PM on November 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

I had someone briefly living in an RV in my driveway years ago. It basically was like having another housemate -- the separation is less than you might expect, especially when the weather's nice and the windows are open. How do you feel about taking on two housemates?
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:09 PM on November 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is the owner's decision, and I can't imagine it happening for six months to a year in the Bay Area without some financial arrangement being agreed upon beforehand.

we'll check with them before

Guarantee the neighbors will be less than enthusiastic about it.
posted by Rash at 2:31 PM on November 8, 2017

nthing what everyone has said about neighbors not liking. This a huge NIMBY problem in my area, and I guarantee someone will be calling the local jurisdiction on a daily basis about it. There are two or three complaints a week in on my neighborhood mailing list (in Sacramento) about people living out of RVs parked on streets or in driveways.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 2:48 PM on November 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

It is almost certainly illegal for people to be living in a vehicle/RV that is not parked in an RV park or designated location with proper hook-ups for electricity/water/etc. Knowingly allowing people to live in an RV in the driveway would almost certainly be considered "permitt[ing] or creat[ing] a nuisance at the rental unit", which appears to be grounds for a three-day notice to quit, which is a very serious issue. That is absolutely not the kind of thing you want to risk. There is no way I would even consider doing this-- and I say this as someone who is currently allowing a friend to park his RV that he does not live in in the driveway of our rental house.
posted by Kpele at 3:15 PM on November 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

This is a great way to get evicted and/or make your neighbours hate you. You may be helping someone, but you'd likely be inconveniencing or bothering many more people than just that.

Don't be at it.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:53 PM on November 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is a terrible idea. I own a home in a city (Austin), own RV (travel trailer) and am also a landlord/attorney and here is what I know for sure:

There are likely zoning laws that likely prohibit this. (Even short term "storage" is an issue in Austin)

Your neighbors will hate it being parked there even on a limited basis. (I got asked to move my RV parked in my driveway for 1 night by a neighbor because they were having a dinner party in a couple days). Hell, I own an RV and I don't want to have one stored on my street.

The RV-ers will want your utilities. Boondocking (being completely self contained in the RV) is tough to do for very long...you need a generator and are limited to stored H2O and propane.

Living in an RV requires frequent dumping. You do not have the facilities for this and the RV will need to be moved frequently.

This likely violates your lease in some way and your landlord WILL NOT LIKE THIS. I am a landlord and I would not allow this for one day. I doubt I would kick you out for it if you have previously been a perfect tenant for years, but the lapse in judgment shown for allowing this would definitely remove you from the perfect tenant category.
posted by murrey at 7:37 PM on November 8, 2017 [6 favorites]

Do not underestimate how incredibly difficult it is to ask someone to leave when you know they don't have anywhere else to go and no resources to get there. Which is exactly the situation you will find yourself in if this woman can't or doesn't actually save up her money in the way you imagine she will.

A couple of times in my life I have opened my home to someone with the expectation that they would spend their time diligently looking for work, pitch in around the house, live frugally, save up their money for a place of their own, and move out ASAP.

Hah. Pretty much exactly the opposite of this happened. And they were full of excuses and reasons and extenuating circumstances and blah blah blah, while we all lived on top of one another and got on each other's nerves, for months. But they were still nice people and I let them overstay their welcome MUCH longer than I should have, because I would have been literally casting them out into the streets had I kicked them out. When things finally came to a head and they needed to be booted out, there was anger all around, I felt shitty, they felt hard-done-by, they weren't any better off than they were before and now we were assholes for throwing them out.

I can only imagine it would feel a hundred times worse with a child involved.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 10:23 PM on November 8, 2017 [13 favorites]

Just as another data point, I've had experience with asking a bunch of people I shared a cabin with at a conference if a certain kind of noisy thing was OK during specific hours, was assured by all that it was, and found out later that these people complained about me to the people running the conference. So your neighbors telling you it's OK does not mean they won't complain.
posted by FencingGal at 10:27 AM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Another risk to think about... if the RV gets non-working or abandoned, and/or has not title, it could be very costly to get it removed from your driveway.

I'm sharing info I've heard second-hand... I would check your local laws regarding abandoned, inoperable vehicles, and missing titles --- the work and costs of having them removed from our property.

Where I live (WA) it's easy to tow an abandoned car off your property. However, an RV is considered a domicile and you can't just tow it without paperwork and costs. A local church spent a couple thousands to get permission to tow an abandoned broken RV off their property. It was left there by someone they were trying to help.

If you decide to take these sub-tenants, ask the woman to show you the RV title, to confirm that she is the owner of the vehicle.
posted by valannc at 10:54 AM on November 9, 2017

I am not a landlord, HOA board member, zoning official, or other property management/public zoning professional. However, I have worked in an industry that's adjacent to those segments for twenty years and counting. I have worked with landlords, HOA members, zoning officials, and property management companies all over the USA.

I can tell you from those folks: DO. NOT. DO. THIS. The reasons given by others here are correct. This has the potential to turn into a nightmare of epic proportions.

> There's nothing in our lease which addresses this sort of situation.

No, but three will get you five that your lease contains language about subletting (which is the situation you're describing). There's also probably language requiring that you comply with all laws, local ordinances insurance carrier requirements and/or homeowners’ association rules while you're a tenant. As others have already said, the situation you described is usually illegal due to local zoning laws, so that applies here.

I'm not even going to touch the issue of the acquaintance turning into a nightmare tenant, except to say this: it is a long-standing truism among landlords that the best way to get rid of a problem tenant is to not let them move in in the first place. Heed those words!

> We do not plan to check with them first, and if they drive by and ask about the RV (doubtful), we'd say that we're storing it for a friend.

You mean to tell me that you're prepared to lie to your landlord, risk eviction, and risk fines from the city/county, for an acquaintance?

Tell this person that you can't dues to renting and zoning, and refer them to Boondockers or a similar service.
posted by magstheaxe at 2:51 PM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Neighbors will notice and report seeing someone coming in and out every day, so the "storing it for a friend" story won't work.

There was a great couple that lived in an RV in front of my old apartment building. It's not just the coming and going, it's sitting in there with the windows open and the TV or radio on, or with the lights on at night.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:15 PM on November 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have direct experience with a scenario very much like this. I wish I didn't.

My ex-partner and I agreed to let a mutual friend of ours live in a large van conversion parked in our driveway while he got back on his feet and (supposedly) looked for a stable living situation. I didn't love the idea but I guess I have a soft heart in there somewhere—after all, who wants to see a friend be homeless? My ex and I owned the home, there was no HOA to contend with, and most of the other residents on our block were renters so it was unlikely anyone would make a fuss about their property values. I had known this friend for a long time.

Nonetheless, the situation grated on me from the start. The van was an eyesore and took up what would have been my off-street parking spot. The friend was often in our (small) home to use the bathroom and kitchen facilities and started storing things in the garage and main house. He did try to be respectful but unless an RV is exceptionally well-equipped, I just don't think it's feasible to use one as a long-term independent residence without backup facilities, either at a permanent house or at a purpose-built RV park. That's in addition to the grey and black water disposal problems other people have talked about already.

After about six months I started making some pointed inquiries about when he would be finding a more permanent residence. The answer was, essentially, not any time soon. Living in the van (with access to my home, of course) suited him well enough, and my ex-partner didn't find the situation particularly bothersome either. Five years later—yes that's right, five—he is, as far as I know, still living in my ex-partner's driveway. I ended up leaving that relationship and moving out of the area myself a few years ago. The van situation was definitely a contributing factor. The friend and I are no longer on good terms.

Your scenario might not work out this badly, but you need to ask yourself some hard questions even beyond the very legitimate concerns others have raised about violating local laws and putting yourself at risk for eviction. Are you willing to share the facilities in your home part time with this family for an extended period? What if their plan for saving up money doesn't work out, or takes much longer than anticipated? That's probably more likely than not. When I was a kid my parents rented out our spare bedroom to a woman who had fallen on hard times and again, "about six months" turned into a year and a half. Do you know them well enough that you feel you could resolve disputes amicably? Are you comfortable asking them to move on if the situation becomes unsustainable for you?

You and your husband being renters yourselves kind of gives you a "get out of jail free" card here. I understand the desire to be generous, but I suggest that you use it.
posted by 4rtemis at 7:29 PM on November 9, 2017 [6 favorites]

Step 1: Check to make sure this is legal where you live. Chances are it's not.
Step 2: Check with your landlord to see if this is something they will allow. Chances are they won't. Don't put your use of their home on the line without letting them know what you're considering doing. Just because your lease doesn't address something does not mean it's ok.
Step 3: Research other options for this acquaintance and her daughter. Your driveway should not be their only choice. I'm sure there are others nearby.

The other comments about gray water, power usage, water usage, their wanting to use your laundry facilities, kitchen, bathroom/shower, etc, etc are all completely valid. You don't know these people and how they live, what their expectations will be, and if they'll willingly leave when you want them to.

All around it's just a bad idea. Really, really bad.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 4:06 PM on November 12, 2017

grounds for a three-day notice to quit

As I said above, I think this is a bad idea. But I think there's a decent chance that you'd receive a "notice to perform [or cure] or quit" -- you might well get three days to fix the problem. E.g., here is a group in Sacramento advising that this form be used. But even in that case, think how awful it would be to have to evict them with only three days notice. (And what if they dragged their feet while you were starting to worry that you'd get evicted yourself??)
posted by slidell at 10:32 PM on November 13, 2017

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