If you're buying an existing business or an open piece of commercial land, you need to check the zoning laws. If you don't, you may not be able to do what you want with the property.
What are zoning laws?
Zoning laws restrict what owners can do with their land. The laws can include what types of buildings you're allowed to have, how much of the property you're allowed to build on, and what activities you can do on the property.
The purpose is to protect other nearby landowners. For example, you wouldn't want a noisy factory that causes pollution popping up right next to your house. Zoning laws make sure different types of properties are separated.
What are the different types of land zones?
There are different types of land zones, such as residential, industrial, and commercial. There are also different densities within each type of zone. This does things like keep large apartment buildings away from single-family homes.
Some zones also restrict what type of business you can operate. For example, some areas allow businesses like restaurants and grocery stores to open near residential areas for the convenience of the local residents. However, you might not be able to buy that property and put a nightclub there even though it's commercial because of the risk of noise disturbing the local residents.
How do you know what a property is zoned for?
Zoning can actually be quite complicated. It may be based on a mix of different laws and rules. Some cities make it easy to figure out, but others require you to go searching through records. Your real estate attorney will know where to look.
Also, never assume that a business you're buying is operating legally according to the zoning laws. They might have just not gotten caught yet, and the news of you buying a property might cause the city to take another look at the property.
Can you change the zoning on a property?
It is possible to change the zoning on a property or get an exception for your business. To do so, you'd need to show why your business won't cause the problems zoning laws are supposed to prevent and why it's good for the community to have your business there.
If you're buying a property, you may want to make the deal contingent on the city approving your zoning request. That keeps you from buying a property you can't use.
To learn more about zoning laws when you're buying a commercial property, contact a local real estate lawyer today.