The Tiny house was born in the United States, which is why the English term tends to impose itself, it means micro-house. Many questions arise around these small dwellings: who are they intended for? How much do they cost? Where can they be installed? And what is their legal status?
Origin of the tiny house
The Tiny House movement or movement of micro-houses therefore finds birth across the Atlantic. Faced with the increasingly large surface areas of housing in the United States, and the correlated increase in construction prices, a trend of residential shrinkage emerged in the early 2000s, to take the opposite view of this escalation that began in the late 1970s. Constructions of more modest dimensions have emerged, passing below the 100m² threshold and even dropping to less than 37m² from 2002. That year, Jay Shafer built a 9m² tiny house on wheels, perfectly well designed and thought out: with the plans he makes available on the internet, he is so successful that he will launch the tiny house construction business because not everyone is not an expert handyman!
Current events and the situation also played on the flourishing development of the movement: on the one hand, Hurricane Katrina in 2005 had done so much damage that the priority was to rehouse people, and on the other hand, the financial crisis of 2008 was devastating for the real estate industry. As a result, the tiny house, cheaper than a traditional house and more ecological, became an alternative not to be overlooked.
In France, the Tiny House movement only appeared in 2014 when the legislator became interested in it.
Tiny house regulations
The tiny house offers an area of 10 to 45m², removable without anything irremovable, on a foundation or on wheels. In the latter case, in order to be towed, its weight must not exceed 3.5 tonnes, and its dimensions must be limited to 2.55m wide and 4.30m high. And in practice, in order not to be considered as an exceptional convoy, the length does not exceed 6.5m.
It must be connected to the local sanitation network or have its own phyto-purification system, which can generate a sanitation tax despite everything. The owner may also be required to pay the tax on household waste.
The property tax is not due but a tax on mobile homes is required each year, of the order of €150, if it is the main dwelling, otherwise, only the development tax will be payable. pay during the prior declaration of work.
Indeed, the tiny house must be the subject of a prior declaration of work (beyond 20m², you will even need a building permit) if you want to install it permanently, that is to say more than 3 months, on land. This is where the trouble can start, but if you stay parked for less than 3 months, you won’t have any problems.
The ALUR law relating to access to housing and a renovated town planning of March 26, 2014, allowed alternative habitats called light habitats such as the tiny house but also the yurt or the trailer, to obtain a legal existence. These installations could then be placed on private land since the PLU (local urban plan) authorized it while being able, in addition, to determine “pads” areas allowing the installation of so-called light housing in natural or agricultural areas. (not buildable).
Backpedaling in 2019 with article 14 of the “commitment and mobility” law which will allow mayors to authorize or not the parking of these small houses, even if it means using their extended police powers to impose fines of up to 500 euros per day against people living on their own private land, in these residences considered permanent when they stay for more than 3 months.
An inconvenient habitat
The price of a tiny house varies between 15,000 and 80,000€ depending on whether it is self-built or not, with many of them around 50,000€, but the price is not necessarily what explains why a couple or that a small family turns to this form of housing because generally, the profile corresponds rather to people who have completed higher education leading them to management positions: in a trivial way, we could speak of “bobos”.
People who decide to live in a tiny house do so by choice motivated by a desire to live more in accordance with their values: sobriety (fewer material goods, etc.), ecology (wooden construction, dry toilets, solar panels, etc.) , freedom (fewer constraints than a house, possibility to move…), etc. It is to their credit in this era when overconsumption is no longer popular, the spread of urbanization and the concreting of agricultural land are frowned upon, waste is banned, environmental concerns become a priority.
However, it seems that the administration is still a step behind: certainly, the tiny house escapes property taxes but by not accompanying legally as it should be these light habitats which, far from becoming the majority, deserve to be considered with their strengths since they are most certainly “laboratories” for thinking about the habitat of tomorrow.
(crédit photo : Think Out Loud – CC BY-NC 2.0)