Perhaps you want to begin renting out your home to travelers. Perhaps you want to renovate your home and need to leave furniture temporarily in your yard. Maybe you plan on allowing multiple extended family members to live in your home with you. To avoid consequences and comply with your area’s zoning requirements, you must ensure that zoning ordinances cover your decisions.
Making alterations to a home or changing your living arrangements are common occurrences in Pennsylvania. Yet penalties can arise if you knowingly or accidentally violate zoning ordinances. Zoning ordinances are set in place to ensure the safety of residents and enforce the upkeep of homes around the state, and not complying with zoning laws directly encroaches upon other residents’ right to maintained property. If a court fines you due to an alleged zoning violation, and you wish to dispute the claim, it is essential that you hire an experienced real estate attorney to aid you in arguing the charge in court.
Pennsylvania zoning ordinances
According to Pennsylvania law, zoning ordinances uphold the following purposes.
- To promote and protect organizations and industries such as community development, public health and morals, police departments, airports, parking, water and sewage and forests
- To prevent occurrences such as overcrowding, travel congestion, fires, floods or panic
- To preserve farmland, soil and topography
- To provide housing, mobile homes and other dwellings
- To allow for community growth and development
When you decide to make changes to elements listed in zoning ordinances, you may violate the regulations by:
- Exceeding the number of residents allowed in your household
- Letting your property deteriorate into a public nuisance
- Exceeding the number of pets allowed in your household
- Refraining from dealing with sewage or water leakage
- Refusing to maintain safe living situations
If a court discovers your alleged violation and notifies you, you must make arrangements to “substantially” remedy the situation within 6 months if a court determines that your violation is serious.
If your violation requires penalties, a court may subject you to up to $500 in fines and force you to remedy your violation circumstances.
Should a court subject you to zoning ordinance violations, you want to speak with an attorney if you feel the charge has no grounds. Real estate attorneys have years of experience and can provide you with information on defensive grounds for zoning violations. To avoid disputes, however, it is essential you review your ordinances before making any arrangements or alterations to avoid fines.