MIAMI—The Institute for Justice (IJ), a non-profit public interest law firm that advocates for the property rights of tiny-home owners nationwide, wrote a letter today to the Alachua City Council and mayor asking them to allow local entrepreneurs to continue their successful business. For two years, Krsna Balynas and Govinda Carol have manufactured and rented out tiny homes on wheels. During most of this time, the city treated the tiny homes as RVs and permitted their use. But recently the city changed its tune and ordered the couple to remove the homes from their property.
“The city’s sudden about-face regarding these tiny homes pulls the rug out from under two budding entrepreneurs. But they had been operating in plain sight for over two years,” said IJ Senior Attorney Ari Bargil. “That is simply unfair. Citizens should be able to expect the government to apply their own regulations with consistency and fairness. Otherwise, our laws are meaningless.”
Krsna and Govinda built their first tiny home in May 2020. After offering it for short-term rental, they quickly realized that there was significant demand for people to have a small, affordable escape during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past two years, operating as Simplify Further, they have built and rented out a dozen more tiny homes.
Initially, Alachua interpreted its ordinances to classify tiny homes as RVs, which were allowed under the code. Additionally, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles allowed them to register the homes as RVs and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation licensed them as transient lodging establishments.
But in early October, Alachua changed its mind, ordering Krsna and Govinda to remove the tiny homes from their property in 30 days. Otherwise, the city threatened, they would face arrest and prosecution. Complying with this sudden deadline is practically impossible and would cause tremendous damage. It forces Krsna and Govinda to abruptly shutter their business, haul away their tiny homes, and fire their employees. IJ is asking Alachua to either allow Krsna and Govinda to continue their business or provide them an additional 120 days to comply.
“This attack on our livelihood has been deeply unsettling. We are preparing for the birth of our next baby in a little over a month, and this has absolutely rocked the financial foundation that we have worked so hard to build,” said Krsna. “We spent years investing in and streamlining our business so that we could have the freedom to devote more time and energy to our family. We were almost there, and then the city shattered that vision when it pulled everything out from under us. It is inhumane and unfair what they are doing to our family.”
The Institute for Justice represents property owners in zoning and land-use battles nationwide. Currently, IJ is fighting a zoning law that bans the construction of tiny homes in a small Georgia city, a zoning law prohibiting an Arizona woman from living in an RV on her own property, and an Idaho city that has banned a woman from living in her tiny home on wheels.