As a landlord, one of the challenges you’ll likely encounter along the way is zoning. Your plans of turning your residential property into a rental property could be crushed because of local city laws. Fortunately, there is a way to work around those laws: rezoning.
What is zoning?
Zoning regulations are a set of rules that restrict the type of properties that can be constructed or used in a specific area. Their primary purpose is to control what can be done with a piece of land. These laws dictate where residential, commercial, and industrial activities can be conducted. They’re usually set on a local level.
For example, cities usually separate commercial areas from residential areas. This is because these two areas can’t be combined. After all, can you imagine stepping out of your front door to see a factory? Essentially, zoning protects the best interests of the people by ensuring that the properties in an area complement one another.
In addition, aside from limiting the use of the land, zoning regulations also specify setbacks, building heights, and so on.
What is rezoning?
As a community changes, so does its classification. For example, agricultural land could be converted into a shopping center if the city is convinced that it’s for the good of the community.
The common reason why a landlord would want to change existing ordinances is that he sees an opportunity. It could be an opportunity to turn a residential building into a commercial building, or to convert a commercial site into a subdivision. His problem is that his plans aren’t aligned with local laws. Hence, he’ll have to propose these changes to the city.
How can a landlord change the zoning laws?
Changing zoning laws can be challenging. There’s also no way to tell that the application will be approved. However, if you’re sure that rezoning is the ideal strategy for your investment, we’ve broken down the process below.
Pro Tip: To save yourself time and money, consult a property management company. Seek their expertise and ask if changing the regulations really is the right option.
#1 Take Note of Recent Changes
Why are you interested in changing the local laws? Saying that it’s “better for business” isn’t enough, so you’ll have to support your proposal. Have there been recent changes around the community? Has the population risen rapidly? Are there new roads that are causing problems for your commercial property? Essentially, what you need to do is to defend your petition.
It’s also important to note that some cities can be restrictive, while others will be more open to hearing you out. Hence, it’s best to be prepared.
#2 Learn the Local Rezoning Rules
Once you’ve collected enough “evidence”, you need to contact the local planning department. Learn about the things you can and can’t do when it comes to changing the ordinances. At this stage, you should also ask about their rezoning rules. There’s also the possibility of them scheduling a pre-application meeting to address your concerns.
They’ll likely make a lot of comments about your application, so make sure that you keep calm. Remember, all it takes is one rude response to get on the board’s bad side.
#3 Inform the Neighbors
You don’t want to be the landlord that everyone in the neighborhood hates. It’s important to talk to your neighbors and ask them if they have concerns about the proposed change. You’ll also want to get on the good side of elected officials since the future of your petition is in their hands.
Not everyone will be on your side, but that’s expected. Remember to stay cool and calm. People will challenge your petition.
#4 Submit Your Application
Once you’re ready, you can submit your application. You’ll likely have to fill out a form and attach the documents that the planning department needs, such as surveys, traffic studies, maps, and so on. There will also be a fee for filing your petition, and take note that it isn’t a small amount. Fees can range from a couple of hundred dollars to thousands of dollars.
#5 Await an Analysis
After the local planning department receives your application, they’ll start the analysis of your property. As the owner, you are required to be part of this process. Hence, you should accompany them and show them what you want to do with the site. If they require additional documents, be sure to provide them as soon as possible.
#6 Attend the Public Hearing
After the analysis, the local planning department will schedule a public hearing. During the hearing, you’ll have to defend your petition and answer questions from the planning department, as well as from any attendees. If all goes well, they’ll give you a positive recommendation. If not, you’ll still have your last chance to convince the local legislative body.
#7 Attend the Meeting with the Legislative Body
This is basically another public hearing, except that you’re presenting your case to the local legislative body. When the hearing is through, there will be a vote, and if it goes your way, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t go your way, you’ll have to wait until you can try again.
Pro Tip: Remember that some members of the legislative body won’t vote based on what’s best. Zoning can be incredibly political. Hence, you could hire a consultant who’s familiar with the political turf.
As you can see, the process of changing local ordinances can be challenging. However, if you’re confident that property rezoning can impact your long-term profit, then it’s a risk you should take.
But before you apply for rezoning, be sure to ask a property management company if it’s really necessary. You wouldn’t want to lose thousands of dollars on a lost cause. Consult the investment advisers and property managers at Luxury Property Care before you contact the zoning board. We’ll make sure that rezoning is a step in the right direction.