Florida Tiny House Laws

Tiny houses are legal in many parts of Florida, but you need to adhere to local building regulations and minimum square footage requirements.
Written by Melanie Mergen
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Florida is very friendly to tiny house owners, but it’s important to follow local guidelines for building standards and placement.
  • Florida is more tiny-house-friendly than other states, but laws vary by county and city.
  • There is usually a minimum square footage requirement, plus building code standards.
  • Tiny houses on wheels (THOWs) may need special parking permits and need to be registered with the DMV.
  • A tiny house in your backyard is considered an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) and must follow local regulations. 
There’s no statewide law regarding tiny houses in Florida, so whether they’re legal depends on requirements that vary from place to place. Generally, much of the Sunshine State is pretty tolerant of tiny homes. 
If you have a specific place in Florida in mind for your tiny house, you should check the local laws and ordinances for that city and county.

Florida counties that allow tiny houses

Some of the counties that are more welcoming of tiny homes in Florida include:
  • Sarasota
  • Orange
  • Pasco
  • Suwannee
  • Hamilton
  • Dixie
While these areas are generally pretty friendly toward tiny homes, they still have varying rules and regulations surrounding them. Be sure you’re familiar with the regulations—and check with local building officials—before settling on your tiny house’s destination.

What kinds of tiny houses are permitted in Florida?

Local regulations for tiny house plans need to meet building standards and zoning codes. 

Square footage requirements

One of the major stipulations that might affect whether you can have a tiny home in a particular county is its minimum square footage, as certain counties have minimum size requirements for a structure to be considered a residential dwelling.
  • Pasco County and Dixie County: minimum 450 square feet
  • Pinellas County: minimum 150 square feet
  • Orange County: minimum 400 square feet
A land use attorney can also help you verify your tiny home will meet your local government’s land use regulations according to the relevant Florida department.

Florida building codes for tiny homes

There are varying standards, but your mobile home or tiny home (just like a single-family home) should be structurally sound and systems should be installed safely and properly.
Building codes for tiny houses on wheels (THOWs):
  • Any THOW should satisfy standards set by the American National Standards Institute related to your tiny home’s plumbing, heating, and electrical work. 
  • THOWs larger than 400 square feet should meet Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards and hold a United States Department of Housing and Urban Development label. 

Parking a tiny house on wheels (THOW) in Florida

While Florida may offer plenty of options for parking your tiny house, you won’t be able to park it absolutely anywhere. Even rural areas may be subject to certain zoning regulations, so it’s important to find out what county and city laws and ordinances say about whether tiny homes are allowed and under what circumstances.
There are plenty of places in Florida that will allow you to park your tiny house on wheels. However, certain rules may apply, depending on which piece of land you choose. 
  • Permits: In Sarasota County, any trailer (including a THOW) that stays parked in an RV park longer than 45 consecutive days needs to get a park trailer placement permit and it must be “installed according to applicable codes for park trailer placement.” 
  • Foundation: Whether you can place a THOW on a permanent foundation depends on your zoning area
  • Registration: At the state level, your THOW will need to be registered with the DMV.
RV parks around Florida that are friendly to tiny homes on wheels:

Putting a tiny house in your backyard

If you’re looking to put a tiny house in your own backyard, this structure would be considered an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). 
Whether you’ll be able to do this depends on your local regulations. In St. Petersburg, for instance, ADUs can be installed on the same lot as a regular home if the lot size is at least 5,800 square feet. 
Pro Tip If you’re planning to use an ADU (or any other tiny home) as a rental, make sure you check local laws and ordinances first. There may be additional rules to follow. 

How to become a tiny house owner in Florida

Before you set out on your tiny house journey in Florida, here are some general steps you can take to help make your tiny dream a big (legally-compliant) reality:
  • Figure out what tiny house type is for you: Are you looking for an ADU that can serve as a guest house or backyard getaway? Do you want a THOW that goes everywhere you go? Or do you want to be able to place your tiny home on a permanent lot?
  • Research your local zoning laws and building codes: Check with the corresponding offices at your county courthouse and city hall, and visit your library to find more resources for what’s legally required for the tiny home setup you have in mind.
  • Pick a place for your tiny house: Once you’ve figured out where your tiny home will be allowed, start getting your plans in place, like purchasing a lot or reserving a rental space at an RV park, or getting things ready in your backyard.
  • Find a company to build your tiny house: Some companies out there, like
    Tampa Bay Tiny Homes
    and
    Movable Roots
    , offer a variety of customizable options from shells to fully finished products at various price points. 
  • Compare home insurance rates: How your tiny home is classified will determine what kind of insurance you need to get for it—some options include mobile and manufactured home insurance, RV insurance, and additional structure protection under a home insurance plan.
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FAQs

Whether you need a permit for your tiny house depends on what type of tiny home you have, what you use it for, and where it is. You should generally expect to need one or more permits in most cases. 
Check your local and county laws and ordinances to find out which ones, if any, might be required.
The minimum square footage for a house in Florida varies depending on your city and location. In Pinellas County, dwellings need to be at least 150 square feet. In Orange County, the minimum is 400 square feet.
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