RV Storage: A Property Right, Or A Blight On Your Rights? [Block Talk]
RV Storage: A Property Right, Or A Blight On Your Rights? [Block Talk]

RV Storage: A Property Right, Or A Blight On Your Rights? [Block Talk]

ACROSS AMERICA — “Their property, their business” was a common response when we asked about off-season RV and camper storage for Block Talk, Patch’s exclusive neighborhood etiquette column.

It’s this simple for Parsippany (New Jersey) Patch reader Giovanna.

“I don’t get a say on ugly decorations or colors of their homes, or the 15 cars parked in one driveway,” Giovanna said. “I park mine in the driveway, and no issues so far for the 40-foot camper.”

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“What problem? Are my eyes troubled? My word people. Get a grip,” said Across Massachusetts Patch reader Kaydee. “Nearby property owners should pay attention to their property. Someone else’s is not their business.”

Banning-Beaumont (California) Patch reader Debbie said code enforcement officials regularly let people in her neighborhood know what’s allowed and that should end any complaints.

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“Someone having to look at someone’s trailer and being bothered by it is a personal problem,” Debbie said. “My street has basketball hoops, trash cans, etc. A trailer is the least of the problems.”

“My neighbor can paint their house yellow with pink polka-dots if they want and that’s not an issue. My neighbor can choose not to take care of their grass and, again, not an issue, not my business,” said Jess, who reads Brick Patch and Point Pleasant Patch in New Jersey. “Why would an RV on the owner’s property be an issue?”

Jess added: “It would be an infringement on people’s rights to dictate in a public neighborhood whether they are allowed to own an RV and have it on their property.”

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‘A Joke At Best’

But there are exceptions, glaring ones. Just ask Jay, who reads Across Illinois Patch, and is living what he calls every homeowner’s nightmare.

In his small city outside Chicago, “code enforcement is a joke at best,” Jay said. “You have storage trailers, RVs on driveways, between homes and back yards for years on end, killing the views and surrounding nature.”

Housing code enforcement is lax, too, Jay said, and “our home values never increase due to the city allowing inconsiderate (slur) to bring our home values down.”

Jay has lost hope anything will change.

“I never waste time talking to the neighbor, simply due to the fact they don’t give a crap to begin with, or common courtesy on their behalf would have applied before they parked these eyesores next to their neighbors’ homes,” he said. “I would call the city to enforce the city codes but they don’t believe in enforcing anything that makes one’s home look like crap and brings the property value and appearance of the neighborhood to Chicago city alley status.”

The way he sees it, “if you can afford the RV, you can afford storage; if you enjoy your boat and the cost of enjoying your boat, you can afford the storage.”

“No one signed up for investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a home in what they believed was a great city, neighborhood to have to look at someone else who is inconsiderate, thinking they have the right to park a 30- or 40-foot trailer between residential homes, PERIOD.”

Bridgewater (New Jersey) Patch reader Tex feels that.

“The township does not enforce the code, and neighbors flout the code,” said Tex, who said he has tried “every avenue of redress,” but different zoning officers interpret the code differently, “so the trailer remains.”

“If there is a code, and neighbors complain, the town must act,” Tex said. “Parking it in front of your house, and utilizing as additional living space should be forbidden!”

MYOB

The chorus from the mind-your-own-business crowd was louder, though.

“As a society, I think we need to ‘care less’ about our neighbors’ property. My property equals my business.,” said Waukesha (Wisconsin) Patch reader A. “It’s my driveway if I wanna park a camper on it, and same goes for my neighbors. It’s their yard, it’s their driveway and we should respect that fact and not get all offended for small things that don’t directly impact us. One person’s eyesore is another person’s happiness.”

If the vehicle is a trailer, keep it off the street, said Walt, who reads Joliet Patch, Crest Hill Patch and Plainfield Patch in Illinois. Otherwise, people should just mind their own business, he said. He’s not bothered either way.

“A motorhome, however, is just a vehicle and should be able to park on the street, weather permitting,” Walt said, adding, Personally, I would not put it on the street, fearing damage.”

“I think they are overkill, but people should be able to put anything on their own property,” said Concord (New Hampshire) Patch reader Julie. “It’s not anyone’s business what you do on your own property, not the other property owners’ or the city’s. If you have room to store an RV, then you should be able to store an RV.”

People who park their RVs and campers on the street had little support among survey respondents.

Across Massachusetts, Patch reader Donna said she generally respects property owners’ right to park their RVS and boats wherever they want during the off-season. Still, when they’re parked across the street from an elementary school, that’s a problem.

“There are several large RVs and four boats, and children dart in and out,” putting themselves at risk of being hit by passing cars, Donna said. She’s tried to notify the appropriate authorities but hasn’t had much luck.

It’s ugly to look at, too, Donna said.

“It’s their personal property, but it’s a different story when it’s on the street and it is an eyesore,” she said, adding, “This never happened before COVID.”

‘Be An Adult’

Several readers said that if neighbors have a problem with how they store their RVs, they should show the courtesy of talking to them before reporting them to local officials.

“There’s no need to get the government involved,” said Orland Park (Illinois) Patch reader John.

“Talk it out,” said Tim in Connecticut, who reads Wallingford Patch, North Haven Patch, Trumbull Patch and Bridgeport Patch.

Holmdel-Hazlet (New Jersey) Patch reader Lisa, who legally stores a 20-foot travel trailer in her driveway, would appreciate a conversation before a code enforcement official shows up at the door.

“RVs are a great, inexpensive way to travel vs. the high price of hotels,” Lisa said. “Property owners should be able to park whatever vehicles they want on their property. As long as it does not disrupt the neighbors, I don’t see an issue.”

Although it’s a private property rights issue, anyone who is bothered by it should “be an adult and talk to the neighbors,” said Bel Air (Maryland) Patch Bob.

Another Marylander, Connie, said talking to neighbors first is often the best way to resolve things. “They may not realize the problem exists,” the Ellicott City Patch and Columbia Patch reader said. “Ignorance is no excuse, but maybe they do not know and might rather hear it from you first-hand than find out the hard way from the police impound guy.”

‘We Lived Happily Ever After’

If that doesn’t work and there’s a code violation, “I’d definitely report them,” Thomas said. “And if existing policies are not enforced or do not fully address problems that have a serious negative impact on neighbors, particularly when it comes to safety and noise, I’d see about fine-tuning those policies.”

Northampton (Pennsylvania) Patch reader Patti said there are no restrictions in her neighborhood, but if her neighbor’s RV was blocking her driveway, for example, she’d talk it out.

“Years ago, I parked an RV in my driveway,” Patti said. “My neighbor had a boat in their side yard. We all lived happily ever after.”

If her neighbor’s RV was legally stored under city ordinances, but an eyesore, “I would ask them for a better solution,” said Doylestown Patch reader Marie. “If it created a hardship for me or my neighbors, and they didn’t try to work with us, I would consult the borough for remediation.”

Or, Taylor in Michigan suggested, how about just being a good neighbor?

“If it’s on their property, I do not think it’s a problem,” the Troy Patch and Rochester-Rochester Hills Patch reader said. “If it’s actually creating a problem, I’d talk to the neighbor and offer assistance to solve the problem.”

The problem, said Patch reader Ellen, is that talking to offending homeowners is “useless.”

“If they had any sense of decency, the eyesore would not be parked in the first place,” Ellen said. A better plan, she said, is show up at a town council meeting to get an ordinance in place or to update an existing ordinance.

“Start with the owner,” said Bethwood (Connecticut) Patch Noah. “If they are being ridiculous, then go to the town.”

Even if it is an eyesore, let it be, said Grayslake (Illinois) Patch reader Jack, who said his policy is “minding my own business so I’m not becoming the bigger and more obnoxious problem.”

“I wouldn’t say anything to my neighbor,” said Gloucester (New Jersey) Township Patch reader Ryan agreed. “I would understand he owns his property and pays a lot of property taxes, just like I do, and if that’s the only place he can store it, I would be understanding of his dilemma.”

Or, live somewhere else, a few people said.

“Anyone who has a problem with their neighborhood aesthetics should move out of the congested areas where it won’t be an issue,” said Palatine (Illinois) Patch reader Dan. “If that’s not an option, then understand that the world doesn’t revolve around your wants and needs. Learn to live with it.”

“Live in an HOA is you want the right to tell people what they can and can’t do on their own property,” Salem (Massachusetts) Patch reader Mike said

Or move to a farm, where “you won’t have neighbors living 10 feet from your house,” another Patch reader said.

Just Show Some Respect

Several readers said private property rights aren’t absolute.

“Nearby property owners should also have a say,” said an Across America Patch reader. “They honestly look awful, which can devalue homes. Nothing zen about a huge RV blocking everyone’s view.”

“It’s a neighborhood. People should respect their neighbors,” said Doylestown (Pennsylvania) Patch reader Thomas. In-plain-sight storage of RVs, boats and other seasonal vehicles can alter the perception of the neighborhood, “so, yes, nearby property owners do have a say in this too,” he said.

Bob, another Doylestown Patch reader, said “people can do whatever they want” in his township and that “needs to change.”

“Our neighbor has all kinds of vehicles in his driveway, which exacerbated our neighborhood rat problem,” Bob said. “I do believe the township should set higher standards regarding how much crap can be in your yard, how high your grass can be, etc. Most other townships already do this.”

Jess, who reads Levittown Patch and Newtown Patch in Pennsylvania, said as long as people can contain their RVs and all the cars in their driveway and garage, it’s acceptable — even if he does “think it is ugly.”

But if they can’t contain all their cars and recreational vehicles on their property without letting them spill onto the lawn, “they should muster enough respect for the rest of those paying taxes to live there and house their toys in a proper facility — and townships should regularly swing by to check such things,” Jess said.

“Those pushing the limits are generally uncaring about how others experience their excesses, whether it be ongoing noise disturbances or large objects like this, so talking to them would likely go nowhere fast.” Jess went on. “Townships should have someone swing by at random times without warning to ensure compliance, but if they didn’t or didn’t catch it, and it was really obnoxious, I’d tell the township.”

Another remedy is to ask neighborhood watch groups already keeping an eye on crime and suspicious behavior to keep track of violations of RV parking codes. They would have to be “diligent and contact zoning authorities in a timely manner, so as to nip the behavior in the bud before the offenders feel they have the right to do it,” Jess said.

About Block Talk

Block Talk is an exclusive Patch series on neighborhood etiquette — and readers provide the answers. If you have a topic you’d like for us to consider, email beth.dalbey@patch.com with “Block Talk” as the subject line.

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