Legal issues around van living in the UK

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  • Hi all


    I've not posted in a while as been busy with my conversion but we're now in Week 2 of officially being full-time van dwellers :D


    I decided not to lie at work as didn't want to be dishonest and waste loads of energy in concocting stories as everyone knows I was doing a tiring commute from one part of the country to another and moving closer to work, but as I work for a small but very corporate firm, I'm trying to get myself prepared for some awkward questions (especially as we have a tiny in-house legal team)...


    So far, no one has given me any hassle (just a few raised eyebrows) but am I right in thinking that if I'm moving around all the time (we literally move locations every night), we're ok in terms of the law aside from the possibility that we could be prosecuted by the Council for sleeping on public land with no parking restrictions?


    I'm expecting a few people to quizz me on Council Tax, but if I were a person deciding to backpack around the UK for a year (or even a foreign person doing the same), I wouldn't be paying said tax? I did read something about you having to pay a full year's tax if you were in a static caravan but as that's not the case, would this still apply to me?


    I'm sorry if this is already covered in the forums, but I'm reading so many different things on the net about this being legal, that being illegal, etc.!


    Thanks in advance :flower:

  • The 1 main issue that worries me a little is that your driving licence is supposed to be registered to where you live meaning that you need to live at an address for your driving licence to be valid.
    I don't know if that could affect your work but this rule effectively criminalises all gypsies, travelers, narrowboats with out a postbox and address, people who go traveling for a year in a camper van, I've not researched how often they convict people but they could if they want.

  • I've been in my van 6 months now. If it came to it I could easily dwell within 3 counties by driving 10minutes so who would I pay my council tax too?


    I work full time. 2 people know I live in my van. I had initially planned on not telling anyone however I find this builds up a bit of anxiety around the whole thing. The 2 people that do know have asked me out straight "are you living in your van".


    I've no doubt others know but if they ask "where do you live" or try dig for information I'm purposely evasive.


    I like you plan to move every night to a different location. Even though I have a couple of nice quiet spots its hard to be disciplined enough to go to another one sometimes.


    I work shifts 6-2 & 2-10 which means I have 2 different areas I rotate week by week. 6-2's I stay very near to work. The closer I am the later I can get up. 2-10's I sleep closer to my gym for use the next morning.


    As for an address take a look at boatmail.co.uk they say you can register your vehicle, bank and driving licences there and they forward your mail on.


    I'm going to be setting it up this week as my brother (my home address) is moving. On paper my address is going to be in leighton buzzard. This will make the "I'm sleeping in my van for work" more believable.


    If you keep moving. Dont stand out legal or not you wont have any trouble.


    I park up in business car parks when they're closed for the night. I'm happy enough in a layby (although not the quietest). I've stayed in supermarket carparks just watch out for the ANPR cameras that are getting more popular now.

  • yes that is a very sht rule.I had to do that because it is the law apparently,then your insurance has to be where your car is sitting overnight and your tax must follow the insurance documents that you dont need to show when you renew your tax because it is all electronically known,but if you have to get tax without the reminder...sent to your home address..it gets more complex.They have us at any time they fancy in reality.Its alright for people to say..dont worry it is how it is ,nothing and no one is likely to "get at"you.Just try the bars too hard and see what happens.:wall:

    The 1 main issue that worries me a little is that your driving licence is supposed to be registered to where you live meaning that you need to live at an address for your driving licence to be valid.
    I don't know if that could affect your work but this rule effectively criminalises all gypsies, travelers, narrowboats with out a postbox and address, people who go traveling for a year in a camper van, I've not researched how often they convict people but they could if they want.

  • Thanks for your responses. My bf parks in supermarket car parks when I'm at work so I'll let him know about the ANPR cams.


    I did look at Boatmail as came across it on another site, but what I was thinking of doing is registering the van's insurance with my nan's address - that's where I've got my bank registered to - and if anyone in authority asks, to say we're travelling around the UK for a year, which we technically are as we plan to explore the UK every weekend - we just don't move that much on the 4 days I work! I could still get unstuck, however, if stopped and was asked where I'd been parking (as don't have any proof to say we've been parking on land with the numerous owners' permission).


    I wouldn't even mind paying a proportion of council tax (as I still use of public recycling bins and make use of roads, street lighting), but they they don't make that an option!


    NickJ - have you ever been stopped/asked any questions relating to residency?

  • Post by ma bungo ().

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  • Its not the dvla ma, it is the plod who get funny about my address whenever I have been stopped during nocturnal wildlife preservation activities or because I look like a crazed old hippy and they think i must be up to something because of the way I sneak about.:cool:

    I think you are worrying to much . What do you think gypsies do for an address ? Just give a C/O address , with out the C/O. You will be fine . How many times have the DVLA tried to contact you?



    Interesing read ...
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com…drivers_of_no_fixed_abode

  • NickJ - have you ever been stopped/asked any questions relating to residency?


    No so far never been stopped. I am in my local area though not that I think it makes much difference. The closest I had was when i was working nights I parked up in a layby near work to get my head down. Woke up to a van driving and reversing repeatedly near my van.


    Then I heard "I dont wanna get my finger prints on it".


    I jumped out of the van. Turns out the guy was on the phone to the police reporting a dumped vehicle. I had left my driver window half open.. i out right told him I was getting a few hours before work and thats the last I heard.

  • Its not the dvla ma, it is the plod who get funny about my address whenever I have been stopped during nocturnal wildlife preservation activities or because I look like a crazed old hippy and they think i must be up to something because of the way I sneak about.:cool:


    Yes ploddy do get a bit funny, but my address always seems least of their concerns! Last few engagements , they could not get away quick enough .

  • Technically if you reside within 'one' County for six months or more, you can be and Technically should be paying Council tax even though 'Nomadic'.
    It can be argued that it be paid to the area 'you registered your address. If cornered you have a Duty to 'prove' that you don't owe Council tax to that County Council or one you do reside in for six months or more.
    It happenedto me bu that was under the Poll Tax.
    Howve I've ended up paying Council Tax for he last three years now due to residing in that one County far more often than 6months each year. (My fault) not fit enough to keep moving/driving about.


    I do think you worry too much about what your employers and work colleagues may think of you, but not having to pretend makes life less complicated, especially stinking of wood smoke.
    Your spot on for wanting to understand your legal status. I would be tempted to use your legal team, to see if there's anything untoward with your present situation, that could trip you up in the here & now.


    I would also question if using your grans address or another. If by doing is she/they being put at risk? Shared occupancy rent agreement? Council assistance/warden aided accommodation etc? Single occupancy housing benefit? If two or more adults pay Council Tax, then using their address as C/O will not effect the amount of Council Tax charged, unless they are in reciepts of means tested benefits etc.


    i wouldn't worry too much about paying Council Tax or how many days You spend in what County. Live the life, love the life, nothing lasts forever.


    For all all those who assume most gypsies have trouble with no fixed abode or no care of address. Most of them would be locked up on remand if they didn't have more than one 'reliable' C/O or perminant residential address. It could even be One slab of Local Authority owned concrete slab. Allocated for two caravans and once the Council Tax and pitch rent is paid, this legal residential pitch can be used by many gypsy units coming and going. It's the way of the world, just because they come with a ethnic tag doesn't mean 'some' are not accessing the system in a similar way to settled folk. Pride only goes so far with some, when placed alongside a fortnightly £££hand out or self paying ground rent.

  • As long as you maintain an address somewhere that is enough. You don't have to sleep there every night, my address is my mothers retirement flat and my driving licence etc is registered there.


    Who cares where I am the rest of the time?

  • Thanks guys - I'll chill! I did say to my other half, if I lose my job, I lose my job - I'm only covering for a friend as a favour so was always gonna be relatively temporary anyway so if I let go of that, the worry stops. I work for a financial firm so they're really hot on that compliance stuff but fortunately most people just think it's really interesting so I'm sure things will be fine and it's my usual paranoia...!


    As for my nan, she owns her house and lives with her son but I'll check with her to make sure there's no implications of me being registered there.

  • shinobidef, I had a job interview and they asked me how I would get clean before going into a meeting. I wanted to say "I would wipe my hands up the side of a tree" but I didn't. My response was "I'm more concerned where my brief case will hang when I'm riding the horse" I got the job.
    Worry not and enjoy the attention!

  • Here's my take on it, starting at the beginning.
    When we were about to sell the house, I called the DVLA and explained we would be 'between properties' and asked the direct question "what do I do about the address on my license?". The answer, from the one person I spoke to over the phone, was there was nothing I could do, at this time. I could only change the address on my licence when I had a new permanent residential address.
    I was told I couldn't use my business address, it had to be residential. Had I not told them it was a business address I doubt they would have known.
    Just last week, I had 'contact' with the police. I was parked up at a tesco for the day, for the second time in a week, and the manager had called the police, as they aren't busy these days obviously, so the manager kindly gave them something to do.
    The van had just passed the MOT the previous week, and it was showing on the public DVLA website. The police had asked as to why the van was showing no MOT, and I showed them the DVLA website on my phone, and jokingly suggested they get a better system. They were fine with that. They asked for my license, but I didn't have it on me (it was in the van). I did have my passport on me, and they were happy with that too.
    They asked for an address, so I gave the address my insurance is at (which they probably had anyway).
    They asked if I was sleeping in the van, and I replied I was as there was more none MOT work to do on the van. I showed them inside the back of the van, it was my idea to do so.
    At all times I was polite and smiley, to the point of laughing and joking with them. No further action was taken, and I confirmed with the police I was not committing any offence and did not need any proof I had been spoken to.
    I didn't lie to the police.


  • They may make you feel like it is your duty to prove that you don't owe it, but actually the burden of proof is on them - fact! Also, you have no obligation to speak to them, answer any of their questions or anything else. If they suspect you of owing them a penny it is up to them to prove it.
    I've taken a couple of local authorities and won - the last time was making a request for information based on how much money they had made in a 5 year period on 'court costs' given that they are not allowed to 'profit' from this. Needless to say they decided to leave me alone.

    Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up on your dreams and ideals, wrinkles the soul.

  • I don't understand about the Council Tax thing. I thought Council Tax was directly related to the value of buildings, never mind to who or how you would pay it?
    How could a council calculate how much you pay if all you have is an address on paper?
    Aside from all this, how would they know who to charge if you didn't tell them you 'resided' in the borough?

  • They may make you feel like it is your duty to prove that you don't owe it, but actually the burden of proof is on them - fact! Also, you have no obligation to speak to them, answer any of their questions or anything else. If they suspect you of owing them a penny it is up to them to prove it.
    I've taken a couple of local authorities and won - the last time was making a request for information based on how much money they had made in a 5 year period on 'court costs' given that they are not allowed to 'profit' from this. Needless to say they decided to leave me alone.


    Fact. I WAS taken to Court. I was summoned to pay two years owed POLL Tax. I did have the opportunity to declair that I was actually 'intending' avoiding paying Poll Tax, three years previous, when the gypsy liaison officer was compiling omission statements to use as evidence in such a case.
    Fact I was responsible for proving that I was residing 'outside' that County for the two years & not at the previous 'old address' used still for some documentation. I had not changed my passport or driving licence as I knew it would be safe still recorded at that address. My banking details were moved to another address, but still within the same County.
    In actual fact it's not too hard to prove where you reside in general. Phone records. Cash withdrawals, fuel reciepts, purchase reciepts etc. If your registered at a address, just make sure there's no Council Tax demand that can be made on you. I know folk who have run off to Spain because their interpretation of how the law works in the UK, back fired on them and owing money they left, only to deal with it should they return to the UK.

  • I don't understand about the Council Tax thing. I thought Council Tax was directly related to the value of buildings, never mind to who or how you would pay it?
    How could a council calculate how much you pay if all you have is an address on paper?
    Aside from all this, how would they know who to charge if you didn't tell them you 'resided' in the borough?


    The 28 day rule is part of the mechanics of the the planning system and residential rating System/Council Tax. If you reside on a residential site, your stay entitlement is extended indefinitely in some cases. However, you would be registered at that address and pay Council Tax should you be liable. In theory if you reside less than 6 x months in 3 or more different Counties. You could claim to be exempt from paying it. Unless it was lumped in with any ground rent charged.
    How else who would we know to pay the largest owed amount to?

  • Fk em if you can stay off radar. It does you good to live like Robin [STRIKETHROUGH]Hood[/STRIKETHROUGH] Head. I've bought several years of electoral votes before for the price of a mars bar.
    Inflation might mean it would cost a few tin'ies or a big spliff to buy a vote.


    We are all heading to a future of joined up microchips. Vehicle data inc Photo Drivers Licence, contact address.
    For now we can claim some freedom of movement and limited liability until the Computer says 'NO'

  • Well I just had my first run in with the police. I heard something outside and could see lights shining through.


    They're looking for a van painted the same as mine. Been used in illegal "removals".


    They asked what I'm doing in a layby on the edge of town. I straight up told them I've been sleeping in my van for 6 months after my business failing. Offered to show them in the back. They declined. Said I seemed straight up. Shook my hand and said they hope my luck turns around.

  • That's the best way to be with the police. Direct and polite.
    It worked for you, but I don"t think I am ready to tell them we live in the van, mostly to do with the insurance.


    I guess it depends on the police officer I guess. These two looked like armed police all tactical and not your average traffic police. They checked my licence and no doubt ran my plates and they where happy enough.


    I'll probably make more effort to avoid laybys in the future but I was tired after work last night and i dont have to get up so early if I'm not in a business area.

  • quite often they are doing the equivalent of 'door to door enquiries' for reported crimes (as well as checking you out surrepticciously), often I pull in to regular park up at a beauty spot and see the remnants of broken windows amongst the gravel, if there are wrong uns about then the old bill will ask anyone in the area.
    Your encounter should be seen as very positive , they now know you are legal and above board , my friend Bob had em chatting a few times a week when he lived in west woods , cops would be after missing kids, travelling generater salesmen, deer poachers,fly tippers and general wrong uns , to them another pair of eyes is seen as an asset , not saying that you should turn police informant but just that apearing to assist them makes them happy , its an extenton of picking up the litter around your truck , all the better if an official bod sees you doing it ;)

  • quite often they are doing the equivalent of 'door to door enquiries' for reported crimes (as well as checking you out surrepticciously), often I pull in to regular park up at a beauty spot and see the remnants of broken windows amongst the gravel, if there are wrong uns about then the old bill will ask anyone in the area.
    Your encounter should be seen as very positive , they now know you are legal and above board , my friend Bob had em chatting a few times a week when he lived in west woods , cops would be after missing kids, travelling generater salesmen, deer poachers,fly tippers and general wrong uns , to them another pair of eyes is seen as an asset , not saying that you should turn police informant but just that apearing to assist them makes them happy , its an extenton of picking up the litter around your truck , all the better if an official bod sees you doing it ;)


    I guess this conversation was going to happen at some point and no doubt it will again.


    Your right. We often have a negative view of those in authority. When they asked me what I was up to the thought did cross my mind to hide I was sleeping in my van but then what do I say. You just end up in a whole load of crap for no reason.


    They did seem happy when I said I was aware of the other van. Mine being an 02 plate and that being a 52. I had my ex message me a few weeks ago about if I had been parked up near hers as she'd seen the other van. And a lad from work asked where I lived because he'd also seen a van like mine parked up. They seemed pleased that I could give them a very general area it had been seen.


    My immediate thought afterwards was to move on but then I thought this would make me look suspicious.

  • If it's late at night, the police are for more likely to pull along side and just run the vehicle registration through the system. If nothing flags up about the owner, they are usually satisfied and don't come a knocking!


    I have a magnetic sign that I can stick to the side door. If Im parked up in a temp suspect pitch and I guess I'm going to attract attention. The sign simply explains that I'm resting up before continuing my journey. Nips potential worries in the bud. Also it can have one or two other outcomes. Tealeafs assume the vehicle is occupied and move on to the next or kids take the opportunity to play silly buggers and disturb your sleep, until they disperse and go home to mummy.

  • Actually a magnetic sign is not a bad idea. I am thinking more mock work van though.
    Something like 'Man and Van' with a spare mobile number. Any kind of trade makes thieves think of power tools.
    You could also go as far as putting up a freebie website with a free email address!