For real estate investors in Arizona, understanding local zoning and land use laws is crucial for avoiding costly errors and being able to use property for its intended purpose. Zoning and land use laws regulate the types of activities that can take place in different areas of a city or town, and they can have a significant impact on real estate investing. In Arizona, these laws are generally established and enforced by local governments, such as cities or towns, which means investors must do their due diligence whether their desired property is in the Valley or beyond.
Zoning Laws in Arizona
Zoning laws in Arizona divide a city or town into different zones, each of which is designated for a specific type of use, such as residential, commercial, industrial or sometimes mixed use zones. The specific types of activities allowed in each zone (how property can be used, what can be built on it, and where and how it can be built) are typically set forth in the local government’s zoning code or land use plan.
In Arizona, state law provides a framework for local governments to establish and administer their own zoning and land use regulations, meaning cities and towns have the power to regulate the use of land within their boundaries.
Specifically, the Zoning Enabling Act, found in A.R.S. 9-462, sets forth the general principles and procedures that local governments must follow when establishing and enforcing zoning regulations. This statute provides that local governments may adopt zoning ordinances that regulate the use, height, bulk, location, and density of buildings and structures within their boundaries, as well as the use of land for other purposes.
Another important statute to note is related to Arizona subdivision laws, A.R.S. 32-2181. This statute regulates the division of land into smaller parcels, such as for residential or commercial development, and requires developers to submit plans for approval. It also provides for the creation of zoning and land use plans to guide the development of subdivided land and is intended to protect the public safety and welfare.
It is worth noting that these are only examples, and there are many other laws and regulations that may be relevant to real estate investors, depending on the specific circumstances of their investments.
Property owners who wish to use their land for something outside of current zoning restrictions may apply for a “variance,” or an exception to the rule. Zoning laws vary greatly among cities and towns, but use variance cases that protect one’s property rights and do not change the nature of the surrounding area may be granted a variance by the zoning authority. It is wise to apply for any needed variance before construction begins, as penalties for defying zoning laws include civil fines and may result in litigation.
Land Use Restrictions in Arizona
Land use restrictions in Arizona are regulations that limit the way that land can be used and developed. These restrictions are also established by local governments through zoning ordinances or land use plans, or they can be imposed through private agreements, such as covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that are attached to a property. To differentiate, remember this: Land use refers to how property owners develop land to suit their needs, and zoning is how the land is regulated by the government.
Land use restrictions can take many different forms and can achieve a wide range of objectives, such as preserving open space, protecting the environment, or promoting certain types of development. Some common examples of land use restrictions in Arizona include:
- Height limits: Limit the height of buildings or structures on a property.
- Setback requirements: Specify the minimum distance that buildings or structures must be set back from property lines or other features, such as roads or waterways.
- Building density: Limit the number of buildings or units that can be constructed on a piece of land.
- Use restrictions: Set forth the types of activities that can be conducted on a piece of land, such as prohibiting certain types of businesses or prohibiting the use of a property for certain purposes, such as farming or logging.
- Environmental protections: Protect natural resources or sensitive ecological areas, such as habitats for endangered species.
In short, land use restrictions give communities a uniform look and feel, and they keep everything organized by separating areas with varying noise levels, crime levels and pollution. They also create more desirable neighborhoods and areas of town, which can mean higher ROI for real estate investors.
Therefore, investors should be aware of any land use restrictions that may apply to a property they are considering purchasing, as these restrictions can significantly impact the value and use of the property.
How Zoning and Land Use Laws May Impact Your Arizona Real Estate Investment
As a real estate investor, it is important to understand the zoning and land use laws in the area where you are considering buying property. These laws can affect the types of properties you can purchase and the types of activities you can do on them. For example, if you are interested in buying a property to turn it into a rental property, you will need to make sure that the property is in a zone that allows for rental units or that there are no other restrictions preventing the property from being utilized as a rental property. Similarly, if you are considering buying a piece of land to build on, you will need to ensure that the land is zoned for the type of development you have in mind and that you comply with any relevant land use regulations.
It is also worth noting that zoning and land use laws can change over time, so it is important to stay up-to-date on any changes that may affect your investment.
Find an Experienced Arizona Real Estate Attorney
Navigating zoning and land use laws during the due diligence process can be difficult, especially in a fast-paced real estate market. It is important to work with experienced attorneys that can help guide you through the process and make sure you can use your property for your desired purpose.
If you are looking to invest in real estate in Arizona, the experienced attorneys at Gottlieb Law can represent your interests throughout the entire process. Contact us today at 602-899-8188 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment on our contact us page.