Zoning laws are incredibly important for property owners to understand because they can impact the property owner’s use of their property. Zoning laws in general regulate the use and development of real estate. Zoning laws are a common type of land use regulation to be familiar with.
Zoning laws usually divide cities and towns into residential, commercial and industrial zones. In addition, mixed-use zones may also be possible. Within the zoned area, generally only buildings that conform with the designated use are permitted. Zoning laws typically place specific requirements on the type of buildings allowed; place restrictions on accessory buildings and building setbacks; place restrictions on the size and height of buildings; place restrictions on the number of buildings allowed on a lot and the number of rooms in a building; and regulate the location of utility lines.
In addition, zoning laws may regulate lot frontage; minimum lot area; side years and front and rear yards; and the number of dwelling units in a certain area. The type of dwelling, such as a single-family home or townhome, may also be regulated. When a property owner wishes to challenge a zoning regulation, they may be able to seek a variance or argue for the non-conforming prior use of the land. The property owner may also wish to challenge the legality of the zoning regulation. There are a variety of methods for challenging zoning regulations.
Whenever a potential buyer is considering a real estate transaction, they should be familiar with the zoning regulations that apply to the property they wish to purchase. They should also be familiar with how zoning regulations work and how they can challenge them if needed.