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Finding a Place For Your Tiny House: Renting

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So let’s say you’ve just built a wonderful Tumbleweed. Construction is over and you’re ready to move in, but where do you put it? Where can you live in your wee house on wheels?

Renting space on someone else’s property may not work for everyone, but it can be a great solution for those who don’t have the resources to purchase property of their own. I currently rent in my tiny house so I’d like to share some tips on how to find the perfect place for you.

ella-049-M_1024x1024 (1)Make a Picture Portfolio


Take good pictures of all aspects of your house and put them in a professional looking format so you can immediately show people what you’re talking about. Not only will the visual get them on the right page but having something organized to tell the story of your house makes you seem that much more credible. Carry it with you everywhere and show it off. Make sure to have pictures of everything you would tell prospective landlords about; water and electric connections, your propane tank, toilet etc. You may want to include some construction shots at the end. See more images of Ellas Fencl.

Tell Everyone

EVERYONE. You never know who knows who, so tell anyone that will listen what you’re up to.

tw-bc-ellaHand out Contact Cards


Give cards with your information to people you talk with. They may not be able to think of anything helpful in the moment, but if they do later you want them to be able to get back to you.

Follow Every Lead

If someone indicates that an acquaintance of theirs might be a possibility, see if they can get you in touch. It might not pan out, but then again it might so be proactive. My landlords are friends of friends of a family member.

Know What you Want

Think about what it is that you’re looking for and don’t leap for an opportunity if it doesn’t feel right. Even though I found a place in the first few days of my search that was happy to have me, it didn’t line up with what I was looking for and I found myself unenthused and nervous about it. My current spot is amazing and I knew as soon as I saw it that I couldn’t wait to live here.

Don’t Give Up

It might feel like you’re getting nowhere, but keep going and try not to let it get you down. I only spent 2 weeks actively searching for my new location but it seemed like ages and I was never going to find anything.

Renting in a tiny house can give you the best parts of the rental system. You own your house so you don’t have to worry about putting nails in the walls, you don’t have to be tied down by owning property, and if you should need to move, you can pick up your house and go. All that changes is what’s outside your window.  

-Ella Jenkins
Workshop Presenter 

Don’t miss Ella at our upcoming workshops:

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  • http://www.facebook.com/lambert.lorette Lambert Lorette

    How would a person be able to legally rent to you? Often having trailers or RVs (which people are living in) on ranch/farmland is prohibited by local county ordinances…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002041067188 Molly Fields

      Not everyone does it legally. I have read on other people’s blogs about how they are renting space on someone’s land, either in town or not, but that it wasn’t legal. That seems to be the most common scenario. If it is legal in your area to have accessory buildings then it be no issue. I think Portland and Seattle allow it; other places might as well.

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  • Caitlin Stevens

    Great post! I will be at the Boston workshop in April–looking forward to meeting you, Ella!

  • http://twitter.com/jocuridedesenat Jocuri De Desenat

    it shouldn’t be that hard to find a place for such a tiny house all you need to do is search deeper and finally you’ll find something !

    • Dana Turner

      so you have already done this?

  • Jenell Wedding

    We have an awesome rural property in North Clark County WA. We have thought about building a tiny house for guests but have not done it yet. We may be interested in renting a space to the right person. We would like a person that
    values privacy and would not have a lot of guests.

  • Ken

    Hi, I have 1.5 ac. in eastern Henrico County, Richmond, Va area looking for tiny house enthusiasts to rent space to “build” their tiny house. Also have a 40 ac farm 50 minutes north of Richmond to offer space at.

    • Peter B

      Ken, my name is Peter and I am from western Fairfax County. I may be interested in your offer! Send me an e-mail at LAROSAPB@Hotmail.com. Thanks!

    • Trevor

      Ken, I am in Henrico and looking for land to place a tiny house. Please email me at trevor_towne@yahoo.com look forward to hearing from you.

    • Karen

      Hi, we live in Richmond and we are considering tiny living for the future. I am looking for others in the area who are currently living small and would love to chat with you and even visit if you are open to it.

      • Ken

        Hi Karen, check out RVA Tiny House Team meetup group for local folks.
        It’s new and growing but It will get you in the loop. I don’t have a
        Tiny house, I have the Henrico land and a farm in King & Queen that
        I’m offering for parking. I have an interest in living small,
        environmentally and using alternative energy and building systems such
        as cob, straw bale etc. I know of at least 1 tiny house that is getting
        started this spring, hopefully more. You can email me at
        slosurfin@hotmail.com to chat more, I have a couple of interesting
        thoughts for you.

  • Dana Turner

    My husband and i have been researching on this topic and finding a place to put it “legally” seems to be the hardest part. We live in Elkton, MD and i am running into many dead ends. Either Rv parks are not year around, or they are trashed and cramped. We are currently seeking land to rent or purchase, but people keep telling me that my county has specific zoning laws against trailers. I keep wondering how in the world do people do this? I am not quite ready for the composting toilet thing and i would like to have a normal water hookup and sewer but it seems almost impossible to find something. Realtors look at you like you are crazy when you tell them what you are looking for and do not seem to be very serious about helping find the property. I feel like i have kind of hit a brick wall. I am getting very discouraged and don’t understand why it has to be this hard. ;(

    • Anne Mallin

      VA is a solar ‘rights’ state. It’s better to check out the DSIRE site for states’ incentives for solar and hyperbuild elec. into your tiny…. Even those w/ HOA must allow members to go 100% Solar and off grid. All util. corporations are going way of the dinosaur, so jump off ship now along w/stockholders. Those left holding the bag will be buying back ‘energy’ from the stupid dinosaur, bad business! In 10 years they can say, “Oh sorry, we need to charge you double or triple what you sold to us.” There is no guarantee they will treat us nice. Corp power must be shed now by the masses.
      Encolet toilets, hyper solar system for your car and you are good to go. All you need is water for drinking , bathing, etc.. Rainwater barrels for garden.

    • Lori Krafft

      I am in the planning stages of my tiny home. I live in Salisbury, MD. I am so excited but I need to gain all the information I can. I need to figure out where I can put my home. I could rent land if it is possible but would love to buy my own land. Does anyone know the smallest lot you can buy. Any advise is welcome. I want to live off grid with the option of on grid if I needed to. I need information on zoning laws around here; Wicomico county. I have one year to plan everything so I don’t have to throw my money away on an expensive apartment. Money is also an issue. How do people afford to build these tiny homes. Even if you try to build them yourself the cost in around 27,000 to 30,000. I must find a way. I have a good job making around 43,000 a year but I have a lot of student loans. Help!

      • Pam Skelding

        Hi Lori!
        Were you able to find any information on where to put your tiny house? I live in Baltimore and am just beginning my search. Any leads would be most appreciated.
        Thanks.
        Pam

    • deanna

      I am here in Burlingame, Ca and wondering Ella if you are legal in Half Moon Bay. Before I receive monies to help in my build I MUST have a legal situation to place and live in it for at least a year. Then I am free to do as I please. I am trying to find somewhere around here because it seems impossible to deal with the zoning and planning dept’s in many states and counties through the internet. It seems easier for them to just ignore my mail. Also I have a place here locally I can use to build. If you know of any direction you can steer me here in the bay area I would love it. Just asking the same question as everyone else.
      When I first started looking into this I thought it was the greatest idea considering there are 7 billion people now on the earth all needing a home. It is so beyond my understanding that legally it is near impossible to be one of the people willing to do with less to make this a better world. Is it the taxes they are worried about. Property values? It makes no sense. I want the same things as most people but I am willing to live the 2nd half of my life with less so there is more for those after me.

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