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Industry Must Emphasize Park Model RV Best Practices

The RV industry exists in a precarious regulatory world. RVs are vehicles built to be used for temporary seasonal, recreational and camping purposes. As such the industry, led by RVIA, RVDA and ARVC as well as state RV and campground associations, works hard to create and maintain a bright regulatory line between RVs and permanent housing.

Those efforts have been largely successful. After potentially destroying the RV industry with a new RV definition interpretation a year ago, the department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is now in the process of exempting RVs from manufactured housing standards based on the black and white fact that they are built to RV standards.

Meanwhile states by and large allow the RV industry to maintain self-regulation in terms of RV standards compliance and enforcement. And although local jurisdictions often try to impose onerous residential tax and zoning regulations, the industry is typically successful at beating those back. But it is a constant struggle. So it’s important to remember what the comic strip character Pogo famously opined in 1971: “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

For example, some consumers and campgrounds remove the axles, tires and hitch from PMRVs when they set them up. But once this happens, a PMRV is no longer considered an RV in most jurisdictions, placing financing, insurance and tax benefits in jeopardy. It may also incur the wrath of local zoning regulators on the campground in which the unit is sited.

Blurring the line between RVs and permanent housing this way raises the industry’s profile with regulators and threatens the industry. However tempting it may be, it needs to be avoided.

So what are the best practices for setting up a Park Model RV while maintaining the bright regulatory line between RVs and permanent housing:

• Comply with local zoning regulations and code requirements.

• Set up the unit so it can be readily removed.

• Be sure the unit is built to the appropriate standard for PMRVs, ANSI A119.5. Every certified unit should have an RVIA or other third party inspection label located adjacent to the main entrance to the unit.

• Never take the wheels and axles off unless required by local ordinance.

• Unbolt the hitch and store it under the unit.

• Let some air out of the tires to get the unit as low to the ground as possible and then block, level and tie it down.

• Never permanently attach a PMRV to the ground using footers or foundation.

• Do not permanently attach decks, porches, Florida rooms or other structures to the unit. These types of accessories should be free-standing.

• Combining two PMRVs to create a ‘double-wide’ is expressly forbidden in the ANSI A119.5 standard.

Helping to maintain the bright line between RVs and permanent housing is the responsibility of every RV manufacturer, dealer and campground in order to keep our industry from being its own worst enemy.


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