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Non-Conforming Use: A non-conforming use is when a building or piece of land is being used in a way that doesn't follow the rules set by the local government for that area. Sometimes this use is allowed, while other times it's not.
Imagine a neighborhood with a zoning rule that says only houses can be built there. But there's an old factory in the area that was built before the rule was created. The factory would be considered a non-conforming use because it doesn't match the current zoning rules, but it may still be allowed since it was there before the rule was made.
"A Deep Dive for Real Estate Agents and Appraisers"
When studying non-conforming uses for your real estate appraiser or agent exam, it's essential to understand a few additional concepts and points:
Grandfathered Use: When a non-conforming use is legal because it was established before the current zoning ordinance, it's considered "grandfathered." This means the use can continue, but any significant changes or expansions may require compliance with current zoning rules.
Change of Use: A non-conforming use generally cannot be changed to another non-conforming use. If the property owner wants to change the use, it must comply with the current zoning regulations.
Abandonment: If a non-conforming use is discontinued or abandoned for a certain period (usually defined by local zoning regulations), it may lose its grandfathered status. In this case, any future use of the property must conform to the current zoning regulations.
Variances: Property owners can apply for a variance, which is an exception granted by the local zoning board. A variance allows a non-conforming use to continue or expand if the property owner can demonstrate that compliance with the zoning ordinance would create an undue hardship.
Non-Conforming Structures: In some cases, it's not the use of the property that is non-conforming but the structure itself. This can happen when a building doesn't meet the current zoning requirements for setbacks, height, or other factors. Non-conforming structures can also be grandfathered, subject to similar limitations as non-conforming uses.
"Wit & Whimsy with the Dumb Ox: Unlocking Knowledge with Rhyme:"
In a land of rules, they say,
A zoning code will guide the way,
But sometimes there's a building stray,
A non-conforming use, some may say.
Not consistent with the ordinance,
A factory stands, with some importance,
Built before the rules were made,
A legal non-conformity displayed.
But if one breaks the rules, beware,
An illegal use may be there,
For land and buildings must obey,
The zoning codes that lead the way