Tiny houses and city ordinance

8/27/2016

One of the great things in real estate today is the popularity of tiny houses. If you watch HGTV you'll see shows that focus on buyers hunting specifically for tiny houses, dwellings with extremely small footprints, often mobile in some fashion. The lack of a "permanent" foundation sets them apart from the traditional understanding of a residence and with total finished square footage of less than 300 square feet in some cases leads to ordinance issues in many municipalities.

A church in St Cloud is currently up against this issue. You can read about the lawsuit the church has started, but basically the church has a tiny house on their property to provide housing to the homeless and the city wants to shut it down because it doesn't fit the ordinance for residences. Ordinances exist to protect the city and the public from all sorts of things and in this case there is a minimum square footage requirement which should prevent the construction of things like cheap ramshackle cottages and therefore in some way protect the housing market and tax base for the city.

I think local governments should consider amending ordinances to allow for tiny houses in ways that will provide attractive and affordable housing to enhance neighborhoods and quality of life. A church using a tiny house for temporary housing to someone in need is a great idea and I hope this will lead to permanent solutions to issues like homeless as well as find a good fit for tiny houses in local communities.