Zoning laws regulate the use of land in a particular area of a city or town. The main objective of zoning law is to ensure that the city or town land is available for fair and orderly development. Zoning laws will determine the use of the land and the type of structure that can be built on the land. Generally zoning laws are passed by local councils. A person buying a plot of land to construct a structure on the land must check with the local zoning laws to ensure that he or she can construct the intended structure on the land and use it for the intended purpose.
The power of a local council to issue zoning ordinances is broad. Landowners whose land decline in value due to a zoning ordinance generally cannot claim any compensation from the local council. They are expected to bear the loss by themselves. However there may be other state laws that permitted such landowners from seeking compensation from the local council or the state. An experienced real estate attorney can review the circumstances and advise on the options for compensation.
There are restrictions on the use of zoning powers by the local council. The council cannot pass a zoning ordinance that unreasonably eliminates an existing use of the land. For example if a landowner is running a coffee shop or diner on his piece of land for many years, the local council cannot pass a zoning law to prevent the landowner from continuing with the operation of the coffee shop or diner on his piece of land. A newly introduced zoning law that unreasonably prevents the landowner from continuing with the existing use of the land can be challenged in a court of law. An experienced real estate attorney can challenge such laws in a court and get the law set aside.
Generally the law prohibits spot zoning. In spot zoning, a single property is treated in a different manner from other similar properties within the town or city limits. Courts will strike down zoning laws that are clearly arbitrary, unreasonable and without substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals and general welfare. If a landowner makes a representation to the local council, the local council can permit him to use some part of his land for a purpose inconsistent with the local zoning laws. Landowners wanting to make a representation to the local council seeking such permission should consult with an experienced real estate attorney.
A person operating a home business should take special care of the zoning laws. Generally the space used for the business should not exceed the actual living area. Sometimes zoning laws can also affect on the products or services that a home business can deal with.
Before you buy a property, you should consult with an experienced real estate attorney. The attorney can review the local zoning laws and explain about the restrictions on the use of that property. If there are restrictions on the use of that property, the attorney can advise you on your options.