Can a Trucker Use “Homestead” To Exempt His 18-Wheeler with a Sleeping Compartment?

Yes — in Wisconsin anyhow.  In a Wisconsin case, debtor had a semi truck with a cab and he wanted to exempt it under that state’s homestead exemption.   He sleeps in the cabin, has a bunk bend, refrigerator, radio, heater and a/c but no bathroom or kitchen.  

Court  resorted to the good ‘ol dictionary.   Under Wisconsin law, “exempt homestead” is a “dwelling, including a building, condominium, mobile home, house trailer or cooperative. . . .”

Is it a “dwelling“?  The dictrionary definition of a dwelling is “a building or construction used for residence” or “a building or other shelter in which people live” or “a place to live in; abode.”

A “construction” is “something built or erected.”

A “shelter” is “something that covers or affords protection especially from the elements.”

Applying the definitions to the tractor’s cabin — the court said the cabin is a “construction” which provides protection from the elements, and is a “shelter.” Debtor  resides in his cab-tractor and has resided there for many years. Not only does Debtor sleep in his cab-tractor five or six nights per week, he eats, visits with friends and completes his trucking paperwork there.  Debtor’s homestead exemption is not defeated by his periodic visits to his sister’s house or his occasional hotel stays.

The Trustee said it is not a homestead  because it lacks a bathroom and cooking facilities.  Court said it is true that the truck cab is not a totally self-contained living environment but it provides shelter from the elements and a place to sleep and eat. It is equipped with a heater and air conditioning, a bunk bed, a refrigerator, a radio and a television.  Moreover, because of the nature of Debtor’s employment and life style, bathroom facilities and eating establishments are readily available to Debtor.

For the reasons stated herein the trustee’s objection to the debtor’s exemption is overruled.

See case link here

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