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The basics of zoning laws


Zoning laws are important to understand and can have a significant impact on a real estate project. In Florida and elsewhere, zoning laws are important to real estate transactions because they govern the use of land. Zoning laws are used to control and direct how property is developed and can impact a property owner's rights to use their property.

Zoning laws generally divide property into categories of residential, commercial and industrial property districts. While the effort is to make the use of property uniform, mixed-use areas are also a possibility. Examples of what zoning laws may regulate include specific requirements related to the type of building allowed; restrictions on accessory buildings and building setback requirements from streets and other boundaries; the location of utility lines; the size and height of buildings; and the number of rooms a building may have.

Additional restrictions may include the frontage of a lot; front, rear and side yard requirements; the minimum lot area; off-street parking that is permissible; the number of buildings on a lot; or the number of dwelling units that are permitted within a certain area. Zoning regulations may also specify what types of housing are required and if certain features of the property must be retained because of their cultural or historical significance. Because zoning laws are a restriction on a property owner's property rights, there may be limits to the restrictions and it may be possible to challenge zoning laws.

To begin with, it is important for property owners, or those contemplating a real estate transaction, to be familiar with the zoning laws impacting their property. Following that, it is also helpful for property owners and others to understand the options for requesting a zoning variation or how to respond if a zoning violation has been alleged because of the significant impact zoning laws have on the use of a property.

Source: Realestate.findlaw.com, "Land Use and Zoning Basics" Accessed Nov. 3, 2017

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