DEAR BOB: Is it a disclosure requirement for a home seller to tell the buyer that the home has just been re-zoned into a nonconforming status? Are there times when an owner just does not know? –Dick B.
DEAR DICK: A property use that does not comply with the current zoning is known as a nonconforming use. For example, a single-family house located within a commercial zone is a nonconforming use.
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Whenever a property is proposed for rezoning, the owner must be notified and given an opportunity to speak at a public hearing for or against the rezoning.
As a home seller, you must disclose on the listing information and to your buyer if your property was rezoned, or rezoning is under consideration by city or county officials, and your residence will become a nonconforming use. A nonconforming use can have a major impact on the market value of the property.
When a property is rezoned and the current use does not meet the new zoning rules, most existing uses are “grandfathered” and allowed to continue either indefinitely or for a specified number of years.
But most zoning laws specify that if more than 50 percent of a property is destroyed or severely damaged, such as in a fire, the structure cannot be rebuilt as a nonconforming use.
MUST HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATION ABATE A NEXT-DOOR NUISANCE?
DEAR BOB: I own a condo that is adjacent to an apartment building where there is frequent loud noise. The police have been called many times but without effective results. Our homeowner’s association board and the so-called professional management company refuse to take action. When I tried to find out who is in charge, nobody seems to know. This concerns me because I feel the noisy neighbors will devalue my investment. If I rent my condo, I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep renters when they discover the noise. What can I do to get the homeowner’s association to act? –Carol M.
DEAR CAROL: You should attend the homeowner’s association meetings to politely express your desire to have the association take action because this noise problem must be affecting most or all of the units. A letter sent by both first-class mail and certified mail with return receipt requested should ask the management company and the association to take action on behalf of all the condo owners.
If the homeowner’s association directors refuse to act, then it is up to you and your condo neighbors. Keep a careful record of your phone calls to the police.
If the loud noise continues, your legal action is to bring a private nuisance abatement lawsuit against the owner of the apartment building and the offending tenants. For details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
READ THE COVENANTS, CONDITIONS AND RESTRICTIONS (CC&Rs) TO LEARN AMENDMENT DETAILS
DEAR BOB: I live in a rural subdivision of 25 half-acre lots. We are governed by CC&Rs recorded in 1976. They are to run for 30 years, with an automatic 10-year extension, unless a majority of the owners agree to change them. The original CC&Rs were poorly written, difficult to enforce, and are out of date. The elected directors of the homeowner’s association have submitted revised CC&Rs to the members, subject to a 51 percent vote for approval. Legally, can a simple majority of lot owners pass CC&Rs applicable to 100 percent of the owners? –Stan D.
DEAR STAN: If the existing CC&Rs allow changes or amendments by a vote of 51 percent of the eligible lot owners, then a simple majority can enact new CC&Rs affecting all lot owners. But that can be difficult to achieve because many members might not care so they fail to vote. For details, please consult a local real estate attorney.
The new Robert Bruss special report, “The 20 Essential Questions Smart Home Buyers Must Ask to Avoid Overpaying in a Buyer’s Market,” is now available for $5 from Robert Bruss, 251 Park Road, Burlingame, CA 94010 or by credit card at 1-800-736-1736 or instant delivery at www.BobBruss.com. Questions for this column are welcome at either address.
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