Old Zoning Permits from the 40s for a duplex still valid?

4 Replies

Hi BP'ers,

Currently in the process of submitting an offer on a Philadelphia Duplex zoned RSA5 A.K.A Single Fam. The owner lives in one of the unit and I guess his/her relative lives on the other unit. They didn't have a rental license but I was able to find an ancient zoning permit for 2 family back in the 40s on Atlas Portal. If the deal goes through, would I still need to attain a new variance? and also the dreaded Certificate of Occupancy?


Anyone have similar experience before?


Thanks! :)

You should look up the current rental license and see if it's for 1 or 2 units. Philly has a 'use it or lose it' rule for variances where if you stop using the property in accordance with the variance for 3 years it's gone. 

If the rental license is good for 2 units and there are no open violations I wouldn't be concerned. If the rental license only shows 1 unit or there are open violations I would worry about a variance and CO requirement that could be an administrative headache. 

Originally posted by @Slawek Jakubowski :

@Lenn Lin you should be ok, just get the rental license for two units right away. This happened to me.

 Thanks ! Unfortunately the property was under contract within days while I was still doing due diligences. I have heard from the forum that sometimes, those 40s variances do expired if that use is not kept and its a headache to go through the ZBA process again.

Originally posted by @Kevin M. :

You should look up the current rental license and see if it's for 1 or 2 units. Philly has a 'use it or lose it' rule for variances where if you stop using the property in accordance with the variance for 3 years it's gone. 

If the rental license is good for 2 units and there are no open violations I wouldn't be concerned. If the rental license only shows 1 unit or there are open violations I would worry about a variance and CO requirement that could be an administrative headache. 

Thanks Kevin as always! glad to have you being so helpful and active here.

Unfortunately the property went under contract in 2-3 days. However, i was not comfortable with fact that the archived zoning application did not have a page indicating an approval or I could be reading it the wrong way. It also does not have any rental license on record so felt like this might be a headache to go through especially now that the city is becoming more demanding with getting the CO.