How Going Off The Grid Can Get You In Legal Trouble
Thinking about going off the grid, saving money, and having a simpler lifestyle? You may think how you live is your own business, but you would be wrong about that. If you ignore local and state regulations, you could end up in jail, and or suffer other penalties.
The Size and Type of Your Dwelling Matters
Some have turned to tiny dwellings which are easier to maintain, but these may not pass the local size requirements for homes. If you are thinking of building one, you need to find out what those requirements are. Some people get around this by building their home on a trailer, but unfortunately, you may still face legal issues about parking it on your land or living in it permanently.
Before you build, consult a local contractor for ideas on how to achieve your goals while satisfying local requirements. Some area officials now take satellite/aerial photos for property tax assessments and would know if you are trying to skirt the laws.
If you're determined to have it your way but stay out of trouble, you should consider relocating to a place that is amenable to what you want to do. If you like city life, Houston, TX, is a good place to go because it has no zoning ordinances, and you can be as creative as you want to be. Other places to check out are Portland, OR, Boise, ID, and Seattle, WA.
You May Be Required To Be Hooked Up to the Local Electric Utility, Like it or Not
If you are living in a house, you may have to fight charges if you refuse to be hooked up to the electric utility. Even if you don't use the electricity, you would still be billed a small amount monthly for having an active meter.
However, if you are generating enough electricity on your own through solar power or wind turbines, you might be able to make some money back by selling your excess to the utility company. Currently, there is a controversy over the consumer use of solar power and this may result in people paying more for their electricity or receiving less back from the excess energy through alternate means.
Your Source of Water and Waste Disposal Method are also Big Issues in Many Places
You might think you can get along just fine with a composting toilet and rain water collection. This too can become a source of legal contention. Most urban communities have laws that insist that you are connected to local water and sewage disposal utilities if you are permanent resident. They want to make sure that your drinking water is safe and that there are no health hazards from your waste disposal. You might be able to locate rural property with few restrictions but you should check to make sure.
Gardens Can Be a Source Of Trouble Too
If you live in an urban area, there may be laws about what you can grow on your property. Some object to edible vegetation being grown in the front yard, and may only allow certain types of decorative plants. Even with something as simple as gardening, you could find yourself facing criminal charges if you ignore the regulations. There are examples of people successfully gardening in urban areas, though, so it is worth checking into.
To Sum Up
It is not impossible to live a off-the-grid life style in the U.S. but as the popularity of the movement grows, there is likely to be push back from corporate and legal entities. If you want to stay out of trouble, you will want to consult an attorney or do research to find out what the laws are.
If you desire a lifestyle that is not legal in your area, you may have to relocate. Otherwise, you will have a legal fight on your hands. You may decide that is a battle worth fighting... or not.
To learn more, contact a lawyer like Sam Douglas Young Attorney at Law.