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Can It Be Illegal to Camp in Your Driveway?

Can It Be Illegal to Camp in Your Driveway?

Can you camp in your driveway? The answer might surprise you. While you might think it’s your property and your call, your local municipality or homeowners association may have a say in the situation.

It turns out it could be illegal to camp in your own driveway in some areas. Before you set up shop for the night, make sure you know the law in your area.

Here’s what you need to know about camping in your driveway.

What Is Driveway Surfing?

Driveway surfing is parking an RV in someone’s driveway and living in it for a period of time. You should only do this with the permission of the homeowner.

This can be a great way to save money, as driveway surfing is usually free when you stay with a friend or relative. It’s also a great way to spend time with family or friends who you might otherwise not get to see often.

Pro Tip: Surf’s up! Learn the ins and outs of driveway surfing before you give it a try!

Why Would You Camp in Your Driveway?

Driveway surfing sounds great, but why would you want to camp in your own driveway? After all, having a driveway typically means you already have a house to live in. There are actually several excellent reasons to camp in your driveway.

If you’re new to RVing, camping in your driveway is a great test run before you take your rig out on the road. This is a great way to learn about how everything in your camper works, all within the safety of having your house right next to you should anything go wrong.

Camping in your driveway could also be beneficial if your home is temporarily unavailable. This could be a home renovation, a bug bomb, or another situation entirely.

Maybe you just can’t get away, even for the weekend. Setting up your RV in the driveway can be a simple pseudo-camping trip, particularly if you have kids. It’s a good way to shake up the regular day-to-day routine.

Perhaps you have relatives in town and want them to stay with you, but you don’t have enough room in the house. The camper can serve as a guest house, especially if you have a bunch of kids who would enjoy camping out “away” from their parents.

Woman looking out campervan window while camping in driveway.
Setting up camp in your driveway is a great way to practice for a longer RV adventure.

What Is Moochdocking?

Moochdocking is frequently used interchangeably with driveway surfing. Essentially, it involves parking your RV in someone’s driveway or elsewhere on their property, with their permission, of course.

It’s a great way to save money, spend time with friends or relatives, and see different parts of the country without spending a lot of money on campsites. Just be respectful of the property while you’re there.

What Are the Benefits of Moochdocking?

There are many benefits to moochdocking. It’s a great opportunity to save money on camping fees while traveling. It can also be a break from the rigors of the road while also spending time with loved ones who you might not otherwise get to visit.

Class B Camper Van camping on Driveway.
Moochdocking, or driveway surfing, is a fun and free way to camp in your RV.

Is It Illegal to Camp in Your Driveway or Someone Else’s?

The answer isn’t always straightforward. In general, it depends on the laws of your municipality. In some cities, camping is only allowed in designated areas, such as campgrounds or RV parks. Meanwhile, in others, there may be no explicit law against camping on private property.

Depending on where you live, there may also be the matter of a homeowners association (HOA). These associations usually charge a membership fee to fund maintenance and general upkeep in a neighborhood. An HOA is also in charge of enforcing rules that the neighborhood has implemented, which could include things like banning camping or sometimes even parking an RV or camper in a driveway.

What Could Happen If You Camp Illegally in Your Driveway?

The first thing that would happen is that you would probably get a knock on the door from the police. Initially, they’re likely to give you a warning, but you could end up getting fined or even arrested, especially if you ignore any warnings or become confrontational.

If you live in an HOA community, you could end up getting fined by your homeowners association.

Pro Tip: Before you head out on an epic RV adventure, these are 5 Reasons to Test Your RV in the Driveway First Before Hitting the Road.

Mom, dad, daughter, and son sitting in front of RV parked in driveway to camp.
If you have an HOA, always check the rules before you set up camp in your driveway.

Etiquette When Camping in Your Driveway

Even if camping in your driveway is fully legal and not against any HOA rules, it’s a good idea to follow some rules of etiquette when doing so. Some of these etiquette rules could actually be a means of complying with other local ordinances.

Even if they aren’t, they’re a good way to keep your neighbors from raising a stink about you camping in your driveway. Most of these rules are common sense and as good for you as they are for your neighbors.

Don’t Dump Your Tanks on the Ground

This is a rule that goes beyond etiquette. It’s illegal almost anywhere to dump your black tank (sewage) on the ground. It’s frequently also against the law to dump your gray tank (drain water) in this manner.

Aside from being illegal, it’s also messy and smelly and can harm the environment. Dumping your waste on the ground can cause illness in humans and animals.

You should never dump your tanks on the ground regardless of where you’re camping. Use only appropriate sewage dump locations for emptying your tanks.

Follow HOA Rules and Local Regulations

Camping in your driveway may not run afoul of HOA rules or local ordinances in and of itself, but that doesn’t mean everything you associate with camping is legal. For instance, building a campfire on the ground could easily violate a local regulation or HOA rule. It may, however, be OK to utilize an artificial fire pit.

Sleeping on the ground outside the camper might not be allowed, while sleeping in the camper is OK. There could also be rules against operating a generator or noise ordinances enforced during certain hours. Following the rules and regulations in your area is a good way to avoid trouble from authorities and nosy neighbors.

Clean Up After Yourself

Nobody likes to see trash strewn about. This is really just common sense, but clean up after yourself. A messy driveway or yard detracts from the appeal of your home and can raise neighbors’ ire. Again, it can also violate local rules and regulations.

The same goes for your camper set-up. If you’re making a full-on getaway out of your driveway surfing, setting up a fire pit, grill, and camp chairs, pack it away when you’re done. Once you complete your driveway camping trip, don’t leave your driveway looking like a campground.

Camping in your driveway can be a fun way to break up the day-to-day routine. It can serve as a little overnight couple’s retreat or a family outing with the kids. Your camper can be a good short-term guest house. Or maybe you need a place to stay while fixing up the old sticks and bricks. Regardless, if it’s legal, why not enjoy a night of camping in your own driveway?

Have you ever camped in your driveway before? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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