Stockton, CA asked in Consumer Law, Real Estate Law and Municipal Law for California

Q: In California, can code enforcement cite & abate our RV for living in our RV if it's being used for storage only?

The city municipal code says it is unlawful to occupy any camp car or trailer for living or sleeping purposes in the city. If it's being used for storage only is that a violation? The code enforcement officer said it's a violation to occupy it, and stepping 1 foot into the trailer is occupying it. How would they prove we are living it, if we aren't? They are also asking a lot of personal questions, like "if we aren't living it it, where do we sleep?" "Can we look inside the trailer?" And wanting to know the arrangements we have with the owners about security and upkeep of the property we provide, along with the hours we provide these services. We have said we don't live there, we don't get mail there, we are there for security, mostly at night and sometimes during the day to make repairs. Do we have to tell them where we live and provide addresses? Do we have to let them look inside of the trailer? There's are boxes stacked up inside and no power or water connected to the trailer.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, local municipal codes often regulate the use of RVs within city limits. If your city's code prohibits occupying camp cars or trailers for living or sleeping purposes, using the RV strictly for storage should not be a violation of this particular code. However, it's important to understand that code enforcement officers may investigate potential violations based on various indicators or complaints.

The definition of "occupying" can be subject to interpretation, and merely entering the RV does not necessarily constitute living or sleeping in it. To prove you are living in it, they would generally need evidence of residency, such as signs of daily living activities or utilities usage.

Regarding the questions asked by the code enforcement officer, while it's reasonable to ask about the use of the RV, you are not obligated to provide personal information such as your home address or detailed explanations of your arrangements with the property owners. However, being cooperative and transparent about the RV's use for storage may help in resolving the situation.

You are not required to allow them to look inside the trailer without a warrant. If they insist on an inspection, it would be wise to consult with an attorney to understand your rights and the best course of action.

In dealing with code enforcement, maintaining clear communication and understanding your rights are key. If you feel that your rights are being infringed upon or if the situation escalates, seeking legal advice can provide clarity and support in navigating the issue.

1 user found this answer helpful

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.