Tiny homes may face big changes

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The growing trend of living small in order to save big is being met in Florida with new rules and regulations.

Florida State Senator Cyndi Stevenson, R-Saint Augustine, has introduced House Bill 321, which would tax movable tiny homes based on their classification through a registration process similar to that used for mobile homes.

Tiny homes promote an eco-friendly and financial lifestyle, which appeals to many people who want to live in a less expensive and clutter-free environment.

A recent tiny homeowner, Mary Kennedy, said that while that style isn’t for everyone, it’s ideal for her.

“I love my tiny home. It’s 498 square feet in size. If you live small, your life cannot be about possessions,” Kennedy said.

“I spend the majority of my time elsewhere and enjoy mainly sleeping in my house.”

The idea of what is considered a less expensive way of living may be diminished by this bill’s requirement that owners purchase license taxes, license plates, validation stickers and renewal registrations.

Six-year tiny homeowner Janet Uchiyama said that the tiny house movement appealed to her since it was a less expensive way of living, but she may not be able to afford the additional taxes.

“Affordability is what ultimately convinced me to join the tiny house movement, but I’m worried that the new taxes will be far too excessive for such a cheap and convenient way of life,” Uchiyama said.

In addition to limiting alterations and modifications to tiny homes, the measure would create common standards for manufacturing inspection and certification of portable tiny homes.

Uchiyama also expects that this legislation will address the major issue that many tiny homeowners face in locating a legal parking place for their tiny house, which is now exclusively addressed in Miami Dade County legislation.

“Finding a perfectly legal place has been tough in the last several years because it’s so new; other owners, including myself, are concerned about getting ‘evicted’ or facing fines for parking in particular areas,” Uchiyama said.

The Dwellings, Tallahassee’s only tiny home community, is expanding as legislation moves to implement statewide regulation of tiny homes, which now varies by county.

The Florida counties that allow tiny dwellings as of 2022 include Sarasota, Orange, Pasco, Suwannee, Hamilton and Dixie.

Similar measures, such as Senate Bill 1404, have been introduced. This bill is now being considered by the Transportation and Modals Committee. If both pieces of legislation are approved, they will be voted on and will go into effect on July 1.