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Falling in love with a particular property is often very easy, especially in a place like New York, with no shortage of beautiful and diverse houses. But falling in love with a home is just one part of the equation. Turning the property into the home of your dreams with particular; renovations is another. This is why you should consider planning and zoning laws in New York when you’re shopping for the ideal piece of New York real estate. 


Understanding New York Zoning Laws 

Prospective home buyers should understand that neighborhood zoning laws could affect their plans for the future. Article IX, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of New York, grants each municipal government the power to control land use.  

Zoning laws or ordinances in New York are meant to regulate land use, land use density, as well as the siting of developments, in line with the comprehensive plan of the municipality. 

According to Lawyers.com, there are at least five basic zoning categories (zoning map that divides a municipality based on land use). These include;

  • Residential
  • Commercial 
  • Industrial
  • Recreational
  • Agricultural

These zoning maps determine how you can use a particular land space as well as what the buildings may look like and the legal usage of said structures. 

Whether you’re planning to start a small business from your garage or raise livestock in your backyard, you’ll have to confirm whether these plans comply with local zoning laws.


Things to consider when buying a property in New York

Knowing the zoning ordinances in your neighborhood is essential.

You can always check information about New York zoning rules and ordinances on the city or county website. Every major city in the US has zoning rules in place, which began after New York City adopted its first zoning ordinance in 1916. 

If you’re buying a property in New York, here are some things to consider:

  • Do you have plans for remodeling? Adding decks, second stories, pools, and a host of other functional or aesthetic additions and renovations to your property may require obtaining permits. Some may also be impermissible without getting a variance. To save you time, hire a real estate lawyer to guide you.
  • Do you plan to start a home business? Residential areas often prohibit home businesses. There may be some exceptions, however. Check with your local attorney for more on the rules in your locale.
  • Do you plan to keep farm animals? Some zoning rules may prevent you from maintaining goats, roosters, or some other farm animals.
  • Do you have a boat or an oversized vehicle? Zoning rules may restrict your ability to park boats or large cars in your driveway. 
  • Does the property have restrictive covenants and easements? Non-government restrictions such as covenants and easements may apply to individual buildings such as condos or a Planned Unit Development (PUD). They may determine what use and changes may apply to a particular property or an open land space. 


Bottom Line

Before you fall head over heels with a particular house, it makes sense to research the critical zoning rules that may affect all of the changes, decorations, renovations, conversions, and additions you may have imagined now and into the future. 

You can always do this by adding a knowledgeable and experienced New York Realtor or a real estate lawyer to your A-team. A New York real estate lawyer will provide valuable insight and an evaluation of a property before you make the final purchase. A real estate lawyer will ensure that your dream home does not become a nightmare down the road. He or she will help you identify red flags and restrictions that may affect your usage of the property. In some cases, you’ll be better off finding another home. However, you can only know this with a proper understanding of the planning and zoning regulations that can affect the property.

Ready to find your perfect New York home? You can leverage my wealth of experience as a New York real estate attorney to make the most of the process. Contact me today to get started!


Photo by Maurice Williams on Unsplash


This information, based on New York law, was provided courtesy of The Law Office of Christopher J. Arrigali, P.C.  It is intended to inform, not to advise. No one should try to interpret or apply any law without the assistance of legal counsel. Please click here for the full disclaimer.

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