Living off the grid is illegal in some places

Living off the grid can be illegal. It is city ordinances that set limits and require that houses be connected to the electricity grid and have a source of flowing water as well as sewage disposal.

One high profile case in Cape Coral, Florida, has been widely reported.

Court Rules Off-The-Grid Living Is Illegal

Special Magistrate Harold S. Eskin ruled that the city’s codes allow Robin Speronis to live without utility power but she is still required to hook her home to the city’s water system. Her alternative source of power must be approved by the city, Eskin said.

As previously reported in Off The Grid News, Speronis has been fighting the city of Cape Coral since November when a code enforcement officer tried to evict her from her home for living without utilities. The city contends that Speronis violated the International Property Maintenance Code by relying on rain water instead of the city water system and solar panels instead of the electric grid.

A similar case in Michigan (Living off the grid can be illegal) was reported in June this year.


Rolf and Mari von Walthausen at their 12 x 16 foot cabin in Cedar, Michigan
Credit Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

Life was good. Until the local zoning and health officials found out. Turns out there are two major problems with the von Walthausen’s lifestyle.

Clay McNitt is with the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department.

“A habitable dwelling should have running water to it and should have a means of sanitary disposal of the sewage. That’s what our code requires,” McNitt said.

The second problem is that their 200-square-foot house is actually too small to be considered livable in their township.

Growing pains?

Rather than this being a general trend, I would think that those cases and others, that are surely out there, show that there are some growing pains connected with decentralised living, as we become self sufficient and closer to nture.

Utilities have developed for a long time and are naturally favoured by current laws and ordinances. With time, those laws and ordinances will have to recognise independent off the grid living.

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