Under a new Maine law, tiny houses are now considered single family dwellings and no long require special permits or ordinances. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Dreams of tiny house living just got a little closer for those who want to live the small life in Maine.

On Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills signed a new law that gives tiny houses the same status as any other single-family dwelling in the state. This puts tiny homes on equal footing with traditional residences and subject to the same zoning and code requirements.

Under this new law, tiny homes can have no larger than 400-square-feet of living space and ones on wheels count as dwellings as well.

“I think this is a very big step for tiny house living in Maine,” said Alan Plummer, Maine representative to the American Tiny House Association. “People with tiny houses will have to follow local zoning rules but a town can no longer deny you having a tiny home with no reason given.”

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Instead, if a town wants to exclude tiny homes, it will have to adopt specific ordinances prohibiting them.

Rep. David McCrea, D-Fort Fairfield, said he sponsored LD 1530 in part to free municipalities from having to adopt tiny house rules.

In 2017, the Maine’s Uniform Building and Energy Code was amended to include standards for tiny house sleeping lofts, stairs, ladders and emergency escapes. That addition gave municipal code enforcement officers something to base any tiny house ordinances or permits on.

“Before my law, towns had to develop an ordinance that would permit these tiny houses,” McCrea said. “This new law does that heavy lifting for them.”

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McCrea said he is intrigued by tiny house living and the range of options available. He also thinks passage of his bill can make a real difference when it comes to housing in the state.

“Some of these [tiny] homes are crazy expensive and really decked out,” McCrea said. “But others are quite modest and one of the things I really like is what it could mean for the housing shortage in Maine.”

While there’s no official count of how many tiny homes currently exist in Maine, Plummer is confident the simple lifestyle is here to stay.

The new law governing tiny houses will go into effect this fall.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the number for the new tiny house law. It has been corrected.

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.