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What is non-conforming use?

On Behalf of | Nov 22, 2022 | Real Estate Transactions |

If you have purchased a commercial property, you likely researched local zoning ordinances to ensure that you are complying with all regulations. The purpose of zoning laws is to set guidelines as to how a piece of land can be used by the owner. However, laws change over time, and property that once was lawful, may not be lawful anymore under new zoning laws.

Non-conforming use clauses are sometimes included in zoning laws to allow a property to exist even if it does not meet the requirements specified by existing zoning laws.

Real estate disputes may arise due to non-conforming use

If there is no non-conforming exception attached to the property, property owners may find themselves in a real estate dispute regarding use of a property.

For example, if a property owner is operating a restaurant out of a residentially zoned piece of real estate, neighboring property owners may file a claim disputing the use of the restaurant owner’s property and seeking damages for their loss of quiet enjoyment of the property.

Zoning laws vary from town to town, so it is important to make sure to adhere to the laws in your specific area. However, even the most diligent property owners may find themselves in a zoning dispute from time to time.

It’s usually best  for property owners to avoid litigation when possible, but sometimes litigation is the best course of action. Attorneys specializing in commercial real estate can assist property owners both before and during potential litigation that may arise from utilizing a property in a non-conforming manner.