Importance of the zoning in Philadelphia

4 Replies | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Hi all,

I keep encountering people who bought a property thinking that it was a duplex or a triplex. And later learned hard way that in reality the City sees it as a single family.

If you are looking at a MF property in Philadelphia, make sure that before closing on the deal you get city certification with the stated current use of the property. The use should be Two-family dwelling or Three-family dwelling. Also check eclipse for rental license records. The property must have a rental license that was active within last 2 years for the number of units that correspondents to the use. You can search for rental license here:

Otherwise, you may be looking at a protectional zoning board hearing and obtaining variance, certificate of occupancy and more documents to make it legal and have proper rental license.

You can also check quick zoning guide here:

However, zoning doesn’t always = current use. You need to check before buying. You can have a property that is zoned as a SF with use as a MF and vice versa.



@Charles H.

It depends on the zoning of the property. If it is zoned as a single family you will need to obtain a variation to use as something else.

However, if it has a proper zoning, you may be able to have your MF use by right. 

Always do your due diligence before buying to make sure it is something you can chew.