Tiny houses, which are homes under 500 square feet, often 150 to 200 square feet, are restricted by zoning laws in most areas. A website devoted to tiny houses, TinyHouseDesign.com, recommends utilizing zoning loopholes, such as avoiding areas with stiff building codes or seeking multi-family zoning, as there is often little or no size restriction for apartments. An alternative is to keep the home on wheels to "camp" or rent space in a mobile home park.
In 2014, Spur, Texas, became the first jurisdiction to welcome tiny houses, notes USA Today. Spur, a West Texas town with a population of 1,000, saw tiny houses as a way to encourage people to move to the town, aiding economic development.
Overall, tiny houses have not received a welcome in cities. The Stronghold in Washington, D.C., presents itself as an artistic installation because zoning laws allow the buildings' construction, but do not allow people to live in the buildings. A group building tiny houses for the homeless in Los Angeles faces legal challenges from the city council, who believe the small homes harm neighborhood appearance and present safety hazards along streets. City regulations now classify the small houses as "bulky items," the same as tents, which authorities can remove with little notice.
In areas where housing prices have skyrocketed in recent decades, tiny houses present a low-cost alternative. Another reason for their growing popularity is that, being built on wheels and costing as little as $20,000, they are a mobile living space without the cost or design issues of trailers and RVs. Tiny houses are also more eco-friendly than either mobile homes or traditional houses.