If the need arises to change residential to commercial, you might be thinking about opening a business and operating it from your residential property.

Rezoning Laws from Residential to Business

Before you can start a home-based business, it's important to understand the zoning ordinances in your municipality or region. The laws around zoning apply at the local level. If you want to make a change in the classification of your residential property, you must go through the procedures as outlined by the zoning board of your municipality.

Zoning Basics

Understanding the zoning basics is the first step in requesting a change to the classification of your property. The ordinances around zoning help to maintain the purpose and nature of property, as well as segregate land that is incompatible.

The most common property classifications include:

  • Agricultural
  • Commercial
  • Industrial
  • Residential
  • Recreational

The zoning laws also restrict new development from damaging existing residences or businesses. Zoning also ensures that areas designed for residences are set up with enough space for street, houses, utility infrastructure, and educational development.

Residential to Commercial

Residential zoned areas tend to include single-family and multi-family homes. Rezoning your residential property can be challenging because using land for commercial purposes can increase the traffic in the area or infringe upon the privacy of the residential property owners. The residents of every municipality can legally request permissions to rezone a residential property. However, many residents commonly seek variances instead. A variance is a permit that allows you to use land in a way that is different from the zoning restrictions that exist on it.

Home-Based Businesses

Zoning ordinances do vary, but most municipalities allow residential property owners to operate businesses out of their homes, but restrictions do apply. Home-based businesses may be able to be operated without the need for registration or variance, as long as the property's primary purpose remains for residential use. Restrictions may apply to the size and amount of signage for the home-based business, as well as how many vehicles can be used or parked on the property. A municipality's laws may also restrict the number of clients or customers that can visit the property per day for business purposes.

Rezoning and Variance Application Procedures

When you are thinking about operating a larger business from your home, it may be difficult to comply with the restrictions that apply to residential zoned properties. In this case, you may need to request for the property to be rezoned as commercial, which requires approval from the local planning commission or zoning board. Procedures and processes vary between municipalities, but most require making a public notice, meeting with officers from the planning commission, and participating in meetings with others in the neighborhood.

The process of applying for a variance will involve many of the same steps, although you may not have to meet with the planning commission officers.

How to Get Residential Property Zoned Commercial

The first step in rezoning your residential property is researching the local laws that apply to zoning. The main categories are:

  • Mixed use
  • Commercial
  • Residential
  • Agricultural
  • Industrial

The government on the county-level or city-level will typically handle the zoning laws and review requests for rezoning. The governmental agency should include a department or committee that is responsible to make decisions around zoning. You can get the process started by viewing the official zoning map of your county or area, which should be available online. This will give you an idea of how property in your community has been zoned.

Review the history in your municipality or town to determine whether your property might be able to rezoned. The demographics of your community may also impact the potential for rezoning, including the construction of roads, subway systems, and railroads. When those were built, the zoning laws would have changed. Larger companies tend to need the zoning change since smaller businesses can be operated out of a residential property without having to make the change.

You will need to demonstrate how this change would improve the area and benefit your local community. Using examples could also help your case, such as showing properties that are similar to yours that have been rezoned to commercial and served as a benefit to the community.

If you need help to change residential to commercial, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.