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Zoning Confirmation Letters in South Florida: Why They’re Crucial for Your Commercial Property

Zoning confirmation letter with South Florida commercial real estate backdrop

Zoning Confirmation Letters in South Florida: Why They’re Crucial for Your Commercial Property

By: Derek M. Jorgensen, Esq.

What are Zoning Confirmation Letters and Why are They Important?

Understanding the Role of Zoning Confirmation Letters

If you are thinking of signing a long-term commercial lease or purchase of commercial property, one of the most critical items to obtain prior to executing a lease or contract is a zoning confirmation letter from the county or municipality where the property is located. The zoning confirmation letter will state the allowable uses of the property, so you can confirm that your intended use will be permitted under the property’s zoning designation.

The Significance of Zoning Laws in Commercial Real Estate

Zoning laws divide properties into zones which dictate how the properties may be used. Some examples of zoning designations are residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial. Zoning designations primarily exist to create a well-balanced community and regulate growth.

Procuring a Zoning Confirmation Letter

When we are handling a closing for a commercial property, we always order a zoning confirmation letter with the applicable municipality or county. It is a special letter issued by a local government verifying whether a particular use can take place at a property. At minimum a zoning confirmation will verify the zoning district where the property is located and identify permitted uses for the property.

Detailed Inquiries for Comprehensive Understanding

When ordering a zoning confirmation letter, we typically request more than just the zoning designation. We include a cover letter with additional questions to learn as much as possible about the property. Inquiries we may ask include:

  • Are there any applicable setbacks, or any violations of any setbacks?
  • Would the intended use of the property be a permitted use under the zoning designation?
  • Are there any variances or nonconforming improvements on the property?

Sometimes the municipality will answer these questions; other times the municipality will only provide their standard, form letter.

The Critical Importance of Zoning Law Awareness

Understanding applicable zoning laws is critical in every commercial real estate transaction. Failure to confirm the zoning of property prior to lease or purchase of commercial property can have severe consequences if the business you intended to operate cannot be done legally in the zoning district where the property is located.

            The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available in this article are for general informational purposes only. Information in this article may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. Readers should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information in this article without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Only your individual attorney can provide assurances that the information contained herein – and your interpretation of it – is applicable or appropriate to your particular situation.

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