Houseboat Living - what laws, rules, or regulations affect house boats?

by Anita
(Hopkinsville, Ky. USA)

Houseboat Living - laws, rules, regulations on house boats?

Houseboat Living - laws, rules, regulations on house boats?

When it comes to houseboat living, what are the laws and regulations about living on house boats? Do they vary from state to state?

Thanks for any help, Anita

Advertise Houseboat Business Advertising
You can advertise here for pennies a day!
Are you a boating related business and want to
increase sales and profits with targeted traffic?
Act now to get our 1/2 price sale, limited offer

Reply - Answer
Well Anita, welcome to the houseboat forums, and congratulations on asking a popular question about living on a houseboat?

You will find that the laws, rules and regulations DO vary from state to state, and that is what makes it even more difficult to find a suitable location.

In some areas, they have time limit requirements stipulating that you can not spend more than 7 days at a time in one location, others it could be 30 days.

In other states, it is allowed, however it's not a topic that is highly publicized.

Houseboat living is not a popular subject amongst many government departments and officials, as there are many rumors and urban legends surrounding the type of clientele that live-aboard houseboaters supposedly attract.

It brings up many controversial discussions like the effects it can have on waterfront property, property taxes, pollution, and the environment amongst so many others.

If you're looking for more in depth information, have a look at the following links:

US Army Corps of Engineers

USCG State Boating Laws

Personally, I find this is a very emotional subject for all houseboaters alike, and I assume that there will be some comments, and suggestions about the differences in various states?

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about how their states laws, rules and regulations have affected their houseboat living experiences. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

If you're still looking for information, you can try our search function, found at the bottom of the left Nav bar.

Free Bonus Offer

To show our deep appreciation to all of our readers and visitors, here is the link to our free houseboat magazine, the INSIDER. Go ahead click the book and sign-up, it's free and filled with great articles, tips, information and website updates.

free Houseboat Magazine - The Houseboat Insider

Comments for Houseboat Living - what laws, rules, or regulations affect house boats?

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Houseboat Living on Lake Lanier
by: Anonymous

Re comment above pertaining to Rule 391-2-3-.05. Extension of Live-Aboard Privileges:

This pertains only to boat living on a body of water feeding to the open sea - NOT Lake Lanier or any landlocked lake.

It appears to be a Corps of Engineers restriction on any body they own or manage, but I find no definition of what they permit anywhere. I hear:

- 5.5 months on, 6.5 months off
- 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off

Finally, this from a marina:
- recreation & pleasure use only, no residential or vocational

(What if one finds pleasure in residing or working from a boat? For how long can one do that?)

Certain Georgia COE lake marinas tolerate conspicuous full time liveaboards, even boats that are not seaworthy. Other marinas strictly prohibit liveaboards - but they too can not provide a clear explanation of what is allowable vs not.

Clear reasons for prohibition would be release of sewage, electrical hazard & other issues already addressed by legislation, codes etc - all of which can easily be enforced - even policed with the help of conscientious liveaboard citizens.

Why then vague time or restrictions that are not concise?

I dare not call the COE directly, lest I call attention to myself - and well behaved friends & neighbors in apparent violation.

Can anyone shed light on this topic?

FL houseboat rules
by: Anonymous

Any ideas on what would be required if you wanted to rent out your houseboat while moored offshore only, renters could not pilot it.

It would be used as mothership for day/ night stays only, you would pull your boat up to it.

What state offices are involved and would you need a captains license for that?

Houseboat mooring prices?
by: Anonymous

I have a houseboat on the Tensaw River. I pay 150 dollars a month to moor it. Is it legal for the guy to charge when the houseboat is out in the water tied to a tree by the bank? I thought any waterway with a tide going in and out, was public and did not have to pay.

Houseboat laws in SC
by: Peggy

What are laws on slips, or fish camps, to include how the laws apply to Water ownership by owners of camps in S.C.
Is it legal to charge a houseboat owner the same as a residence land camp in SC.?

Georgia Laws for extended live-aboard
by: Jason

I am considering buying a houseboat as my primary residence in Georgia, on Lake Lanier. I found this rule regarding extended live-aboard periods, and it seems you can live past 90 days with a special permit.

I read comments online about this permit. Apparently it is extremely easy to obtain, provided the marina has an adequate pump-out service. Search for the following:

Rule 391-2-3-.05. Extension of Live-Aboard Privileges

I hope this helps, Jason.

To Bill V from FL.
by: Ed Canada

Yes Bill, I'm looking for what the laws and rules are to have a houseboat on the St. John's River, the central between Geneva and mims fl.

My family had houseboats on the St. Johns down on highway 50 and at Hatbill Park outside of mims fl, but over the years my grand parents and most of the family has passed.

But never got to ask them what you had to do to have a houseboat on the St. Johns. If there is any info you have on it, I would be very grateful.


House Barges on inland water ways
by: Alan

I am interested in building a home on a 26'x 60' flat barge. Trying to get as much information as possible. Area of interest Colorado River.

Houseboat Living - considering a change.
by: Mark Hupp

Hi i'm new to this idea and was looking for some input as I am considering building a house boat (not a shack on pontoons).

My wife and I decided not to tie up what funds we do have on a home due to all the unpredictability of the market and considered life on the water. My wife and I are both 45 years of age and are looking for something different, and we live in Oregon and are considering a reservoir in our area to reside BUT... I can't seem to find any rights/wrongs/rules/regs in regard to doing such a thing.

Any Information regarding this would be helpful as I have no idea what I need to do.

Thanks, Mark

Houseboat Living Laws
by: Ray

Because of the many people who have chosen to give up dry land living for a better life on the water, I would like to suggest that houseboat full time liveaboards form some type of coalition to obtain some legal rights, just as we had when we had a regular house.

Those would include the "Castle Doctrine", freedom from unwarranted boarding-search and sizures, the rights to possess the same items we would have had in a land based house, ie: food products, weapons, random boardings and any other issues we would have constitutional rights to possess if we were on land.

I understand that Marina's have the right to deny us docking as full time liveaboards but there are some that look at us in a more favorable light.

Personally, I have never had a problem but as I am planning on more extensive travels on the water ways, this problem will always exist and encounters with non understanding water cops will most likely be inevitable.

I found a very nice marina that is favorable towards liveaboards and allowed me to use their physical address as my own and let me even put my own mail box next to theirs. They also treat houseboat travelers with the utmost respect.

My point is, I guess, it is about time for we houseboaters to stand up for OUR rights. We are a minority so with the right legal help, we should be able to obtain our constitutional rights just like anyone else.

I would welcome any comments, suggestions, criticism and/or help. Thanks, Ray Russell

Living on your houseboat.
by: Vickie

I have my houseboat docked on Lake Mead and I was told you can stay up to 6 months. We were not told this when we bought it even though we said we'd be here full time. Push for the answer before the big investment is all I can say.

Living aboard laws
by: Bill V. Fla.

First let me say that not only states, are different, but areas are different also. Salt water bays and marinas have one set of laws, while rivers and estuaries, have another.

This all refers to parking your houseboat. Now I don't know of any laws that say you can't live on your boat. The Coast Guard has no laws for houseboats.

The state requires you to license it if you have it powered. There are no laws on what material you use to build with. You just have to have holding / pump out tanks, or the kind that turns sewage into safe water.

You must still use all navagational rules when operating.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Tips on Houseboat Living.

Continue Reading Our Popular Pages

Our collection of houseboat ebooks

Ebook Boats Collection on Houseboat Books

We just love houseboats, do you?
Join our monthly HB Insider for free