Q&A: Can I put a mobile home on my land without planning permission?

Planning permission is required, even within the curtilage of your own home 
Q&A: Can I put a mobile home on my land without planning permission?

QUESTION

Can I put a mobile home on my land without planning permission?

ANSWER

If you thought planning permission issues only arose when a mobile home is placed on a piece of land without any planning permission being granted for the redevelopment of the land (it is regarded as development by every planning authority), think again.

Thought you could stick a timber-clad mobile in your garden for use as visitor accommodation without a word to the local authority? 

Sorry, but even set down behind hedging it’s still an ongoing risk which will depend heavily on short-sighted neighbours and no local planning investigations by your local authority. Planning permission is required, even within the curtilage of your own home. 

Unless you have a grant of long-term or temporary permission for the use of a mobile home or any temporary structure, including a caravan on your site (this would generally be time-sensitive and include a stipulation of the mobile being removed in the end) you are chancing it.

This fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants decision is not unusual but could result in thousands of euro worth of fines and/or the revoking or delay of planning and/or construction for the house even where work has started. 

Talking to former self-builders, including two who had lively blogs on Instagram, and lived in their beautiful mobile flips during their renovation or new build, no one wanted to be quoted on this topic, and not one had city or county council permission for their mobile to be on-site, during or after the project.

“We flew under the radar”, or “Sure, you just have to stay friends with your neighbours” were regular comments when I asked around the self-build community about their adventures using mobiles and dry-camping in caravans (also requiring permission after 10 days’ use, even on your own land).

It’s not simply about sewerage and power expenses and infrastructure — dry camping in a mobile will get you into just the same legal bind after as little as 10 days if someone wants to get snippy about it.

If you watched the superb documentary The Man with the Moving House on RTÉ (podcasted to RTÉ Player) telling his story of trying to retain use of his small timber-framed home (not unlike the scale of a standard mobile) mounted on a trailer on his land, you will have seen the letter outlining the potential fine of up to €13,000 in that case and the potential for prison time relayed to him from Kerry County Council.

A young mother living with her child behind her mother’s home in the south of the country who was afraid to be named told me her application for both a mortgage or HAP assistance had been compromised by her median earnings, and that she had been forced to live in a mobile home in considerable stress for over four years.

Another respondent relayed how his closest friend had had his full PP pulled having been discovered living with his partner and children in a mobile on-site in preparation for a build and as an attempt to save on rental expenses. This pushed his project back two years and the experience left him “traumatised”.

If the presence of a mobile or caravan or any temporary structure on wheels, on the ground, or on a trailer is noticed or reported, you will be in trouble. 

The above-board approach is to attempt to get permission for a temporary residence of this kind rolled into your planning permission. There are no guarantees and don’t rely on any supposed local precedent.

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