With global warming increasingly becoming an ever more present crisis around the world, more people are turning to a sustainable form of living. It is estimated that as of 2013, more than 1.7 billion people around the world live off the grid, keeping in mind that many people are forced to do so due to unusual humanitarian circumstances.
In the Western world, the idea of living off the grid is gaining ever more popularity. According to some real estate experts, about 250,000 people in the United States have an off-the-grid lifestyle. Due to various reasons, more and more people are choosing this lifestyle.
But is it illegal to live in a house without utilities in Florida? According to many officials in the state of Florida, there have been a few cases where people have been forced to use the utilities provided by the city, whether they need them or not. City officials have cited the International Property Maintenance Code as a reason that people should be connected to the grid, regardless of whether they need to be.
Read on to learn everything you need about living off the grid in Florida.
Are you considering living off the grid? Here are the 19 Worst States for Off-Grid Living, including why you should avoid these States.
Is It Illegal to Live In A House Without Utilities In Florida?
While the Sunshine State does not directly state that it is illegal to live off the grid, many people believe that some of the laws are introduced to make it virtually impossible to be disconnected from the grid. While some people have managed to reduce their dependency on the state, some are still battling mandatory regulations that force them to be connected.
However, living in a house with no source of power or water is completely forbidden in Florida and most parts of the United States. Every person in the US has the right to basic needs like water and electricity, with sanitation also forming part of the basic rights. A house needs to be connected to the grid to meet these basic needs.
If you are planning on buying or building a home and living without any electricity or by generating your source of water, you could be held accountable in a court of law. One of the most notable cases is the Robin Speronis case from 2014, in which a judge ruled that a person cannot live in a house that is not connected to a running water source.
Speronis used a solar system that powered the home and rainwater, which offered some form of water and sanitation. However, the judge cited that rainwater is unreliable. The authorities threatened to kick Ms. Speronis off her property if she was not connected to some form of public water offering more water security.
While the case was resolved and water was eventually connected, another problem many people are facing is having a sewerage system. The sewerage forms part of basic sanitation in the local county. Every person should have access to a basic sewerage system, and the water should be flowing to allow the sewerage system to work.
If you are interested in living off the grid in Florida? Here are 13 Great Locations to consider.
Is It Illegal To Power Your House With Solar Panels In Florida?
One of the benefits of living off the grid is that you can generate your power and don’t need to rely on the county or state for expensive power. In the state of Florida, no law prevents someone from going off the electrical grid and generating their own solar or wind-power electricity.
In Florida, the government offers solar incentives, which incentivize individuals to consider going off the grid and connecting to solar power sources. The three incentives offered by the local government are the following:
- Sales Tax Incentives
- Property Tax Exemption
- Federal Tax Credit (26%)
The main benefit of these exemptions is that individuals can cut the costs of installing solar power in their homes. While it might not be outright illegal to have solar panels connected to your home, you might need a permit. Certain counties in the state of Florida will require you to have a permit for installing these panels.
Additionally, the larger your home, the more red tape you might need to get through. You might be forced to work with a property inspector and electrician, creating drawings and schematics of the setup. We should mention that you might need to invest in a plumbing permit as well if you plan on adding a solar water heater.
Finally, the work does not simply stop there. Once all off-the-grid systems have been installed, you will need to have a public inspector come to inspect. This inspector’s main goal is to ensure that your living conditions abide by the local laws and that you have all the utilities required by the local government to own a home.
Can You Use Rainwater As A Source Of Water In Florida?
Many people might not fully understand the laws regarding water and sanitation in the state of Florida. You are permitted to harvest rainwater, and the government encourages residents to harvest rainwater. This is often compensated through financial incentives and tax rebates from the Water Savings Incentive Program.
Once again, some of these laws are different depending on the county you live in. Many officials in certain counties can force you to install cisterns, which serve as waterproof containers that can hold water. Bear in mind that these cisterns should comply with health and sanitation laws in the county to ensure they are functional.
Local plumbing laws are another obstacle that off-the-grid individuals might need to think of. In certain counties, you cannot use rainwater to flush your toilets, and you should have a secure connection to running water. Understandably, those who opt for cisterns will need a permit in most counties to ensure they adhere to health and safety regulations.
Is It Illegal To Live Off The Grid In Florida?
Living off the grid in the Sunshine State is not illegal. However, there are a few laws that make it impossible to get off the grid. One of the most important laws that you should note is that you will need to comply with using the municipal sewerage system, and you should have a source of clean and running water.
Many judges often cite the International Property Maintenance Code when individuals plan on living off the grid. However, the code can be interpreted differently in various counties, which means that finding the right county is another challenge you might need to deal with.
Local zoning laws can be another challenge you might have to overcome. Zoning laws are created by each county, dictating what someone can and cannot do on their property. These laws will vary depending on the county, and they might not always accommodate individuals with aspirations to go off the grid.
In essence, living off the grid in the state of Florida is by no means prohibited. You should note that the onus falls on you, the property owner, to prove that you comply with the zoning regulations set forth by your county. You should do adequate research to make sure you comply, as the punishment could be a loss of property or even financial fines.
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Is It Worth It To Live Off The Grid In Florida?
You might be thinking that with all these regulations and laws, living off the grid in Florida is not worth it. However, the county heavily influences the laws and regulations, and certain counties will have more lax rules than others.
It might be somewhat expensive to take your home off the grid, and keep in mind that you will need to pay for all these inspections and permits. Additionally, these inspections ought to take place annually, and you have to renew these permits.
Fortunately, many savings programs often reimburse individuals for living with as little dependency on the city as they can. Some of these come in the form of tax rebates and other incentives that could put money back in your pocket. Most people already living off the grid will say that they have saved quite a few bucks.
However, the decision will ultimately come down to whether you can afford to make the move. You should also do plenty of research, ensuring that you check every law and every minor regulation that could come back to haunt you. The punishment for not adhering to city regulations could be severe:
- Massive fines
- Being kicked off your property
- Forced to make adjustments
- Criminal liability
- Jail time (No Actual Accounts)
While many online forums and other websites might give you a false sense that it is illegal to live off the grid in the state of Florida, you can rest assured that it is not.
However, there are also certain regulations that you need to keep in mind. You will need to adhere to specific laws, which might not be considered living fully off the grid.
Are you currently living off the grid? Let us know in the comments section how you went about doing so!