| by Kenneth Chase | 2 comments

Grandfather Rights On Property

Have you heard people talking at the water cooler about some aspect of their house as “grandfathered” Well today I’m going to explain what non-conforming means and yes I do not like the term “grandfather” because there are multiple layers of property rights and…. it’s just not that simple So let’s establish under the zoning code there are two types of non-conforming. Uses and Structures. As far as building, fire health and any other codes that regulate the property we’re not talking about these regulations or these issues. So let’s start off with what non-conforming means. The term means that when the land was built upon or there was a use that established it was done lawfully under the government regulations at the time. Fast forward to today and the regulations have changed. This happens because people sue towns or there’s a better way to write the code and a lot of times urban planners share codes to solve urban problems. There is a wonderful Association the APA (American Planning Association) That has a library of codes that they share nationwide. Governments change the regulations to make their town better. But just because they say that they are going to change the code from here forward doesn’t mean they have the legal right to take away your property right. So the term non-conforming is established. The property did conform at one time, but it no longer conforms. Now as far as “uses” Typically uses are generally applied to commercial uses, but now that more people have home-based businesses I want to give you an example…. So let’s say someone has a dog kennel and there are 30 dogs that can be cared for and the kennel was established in 1962. Legally established. Then over time….. the town said no, no, no, not 30 only 10….. So now what?? The legally established kennel can remain as long as they operate properly but, any new kennels in the same zone are not allowed and only are allowed to serve 10 dogs. Does that make sense? Typically, if a non-conforming use stops operation for 12 months…. the use is lost. Every town is different and It could be more restrictive or less restrictive. So be sure to check….. you guessed it with Town Hall. Let’s talk structures. Typically structures have setbacks floor area ratio, height regulations and other urban elements such as parking size spaces. Let’s say someone built a garage legally and at the time of construction there was a zero side yard setback and now the side yard setback is 15 feet. The government can’t tell you you have to tear it down because it’s legally “non-conforming” Simple right???? Well not always because usually Water a time change things. So for example, have you seen any poorly maintained garages around town? So, are you allowed to repair and replace parts of the garage so it doesn’t fall down? Well, the answer is yes but, 100% you need to speak with the local town officials and follow the process exactly. They’re there to advise you or you will jeopardize your Non-conforming, right and you could even lose it. And I’m not kidding around about this so don’t mess around. Now most town officials are super-nice and they’re there to serve the public and if you treat them with respect they will help you get your project going and conform. Here’s another example.. What happens if there’s a fire in a garage and a good chunk of the garage burns down? Well, the government has a solution for this – it’s usually called something like reconstruction permit but again, you must follow the code in the town regulations to a T and In general just so you know, You usually can’t expand a non-conforming structure or most likely you will lose your non-conforming rights If you have any questions, please call me and as always here at Hottel Real Estate We treat you the way we would want to be treated Buying and selling every home as it is our own. Make it a great day!


Hottel Real Estate

Aug 8, 2019, 6:26 pm Reply

I love tackle zoning and home buying and selling! Don't be scared get informed!

Hoz with CaliFirst Realty

Aug 8, 2019, 11:39 pm Reply

Very informative!

Leave a Reply