Why is my RV “too old” for an RV park?

By Russ and Tiña De Maris

Recently an RVer with a 1989 motorhome tried making a reservation in an RV park. When the reservation clerk learned the age of the unit, the RVer was told: “Sorry, but your rig is too old. Your electrical system just isn’t compatible with our service and it would likely catch fire.” He was told the park only allowed RVs that were no older than ten years.

The RVer was left a bit shaken: Do older RVs burn up because of newer electrical services? The answer to that question is, No. Properly wired and maintained RVs, regardless of age, don’t “catch fire” by being connected to a “modern” electrical service. The “smoke” here was from the RV park puffing up an improbable excuse to refuse an “older” RV.

No, Virginia, there really isn’t a Santa Claus, but sad to say, there are plenty of RV parks who practice – as many RVers see it – age discrimination. Many “upscale” RV properties practice the so-called “ten-year rule.” Basically, if the rig is more than ten years old, it’s simply not welcome at the park. What’s the “reasoning” behind this practice?

“You have to do it,” said Reza Paydar, president and CEO of La Jolla, Calif.-based Sunland RV Resorts, which owns and operates ten RV resorts. “If you allow these older vehicles to come into your park, it’s like having a neighbor with a rundown house, and it impacts the desirability of the sites nearby.” Paydar was quoted in a story in RV Business Magazine.

Others use more subtle means to keep out “undesirable” rigs. Here’s a quote lifted from a forum for RV park owners. “We also do not post our monthly rates. Our rates run anywhere from $200 to $550 per month for the same type of spot. Usually, if you quote a high price to the undesirable customers, they will turn it down and move on.

“If they call rather than drive in, I say, ‘Tell me a little about your rig. How many people? Pets? I can see if we have an appropriate space for you. Are you working in the area or vacationing?’ etc. You can get a pretty good idea if they will fit into your park that way. Then you can quote the price.”

Not all parks with the “ten-year rule” enforce the rule. Some park managers will make exceptions if the rig has been well-maintained. This irks some RVers who feel “rules are rules,” and should be enforced across the board. Others find the situation amusing and suggest those with older rigs simply lie about the age of their unit or pass on by.

Got an older rig and worried you might not be able to find a place to stay? Remember, not every RV park has such a rule, and if your rig is well cared for, you may be able to stay there anyway. We’ve never heard of a public campground with an “aesthetics” standard, so generally speaking, you’ll probably always be able to find a place for you and your rig, regardless of age.