Zoning discrepancy RSA-5

7 Replies

My father has owned a property in Juniata for many years. I'll be 50 years old in December and ever since I was a young boy I remember it being a two family duplex. I'm currently in the process of purchasing the property and the realtor indicated it was zoned as RSA-5-Single family use. I looked in the city Atlas system and it is indeed showing as such. I did a little research and I found a zoning permit from 1962 seeking a two family variance. The variance was approved in 1964. Would this be documented anywhere or would it still show up in the Atlas as an RSA-5 zoning? 

The best way to handle this to be sure is to consult with the county's planning department which normally zoning is part of. If a variance was granted in 1964, a duplex, it should be grandfathered. 

Here's some info: RSA-5 It mentions in RSA-5 districts, which accommodates various uses, a 2 family or duplex requires a variance which you already have. So, by definition, you're good.

Updated 3 months ago

Just to add, if you visit zoning, check to see what the C/O (certificate of occupancy) shows out of curiosity. Zoning maps just shows zoning for the area, not C/O for individual structures.

@Robert Carroll

The seller's should provide you with city certification that will state most recent use of the property and list all violations if any. Additional to the cert you need to have a copy of most recent rental license.

If you have a rental license for 2-unit for this property that was active within 3 years and city cert stating that the use is a 2 family dwelling you are good. However, if there is no rental license you will most likely have to go through the variance process which is very long and no guarantee that it would be granted. 

You car read about it here (note it is a 2 years old post and some rules have changed): https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/742/topics/511026-how-i-got-variance-for-duplex-in-philadelphia-aka-re-zoning 



@Robert Carroll

If a variance was provided it would’ve still. remained RSA5 zoning.

You can find the record of the variance online at atlas.phila.gov and selecting Licensing and Inspections and going through the list of all permits.

After confirming there’s a variance I would still reconfirm with the city L&I department that the variance is still valid

Not sure if this is what you mean by "found a zoning permit" bu within atlas you can see scanned copies of approved zoning variances. When these variances get approved they do not change the zoning of the property but the approved variance document is your legal document asserting the property is being used legally. This is very common in Philly and as long as you have that variance approval as proof you should be fine but best thing to do is get something in writing from the city showing the property is legally a 2 family dwelling.

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