If you are planning on starting a business in Florida, it is important to do research on a variety of topics. For example, as we previously covered in a post on this blog, there are a number of factors to consider before signing a commercial property lease. Among these factors are zoning laws.
The intent of zoning is to control the manner in which businesses use properties. So, how could zoning laws affect your business? Well, for one thing, local government agencies typically stipulate that only specific types of businesses may operate within certain areas or zones.
For example, a property may be used for manufacturing if it is within an industrial zone, while offices and retail stores may operate within a commercial zone. This is why, prior to signing a commercial property lease, you want to educate yourself on the zoning ordinances of the area in which the property is located.
One important thing to find out is if the prior tenant had a special permit known as a “variance.” A variance is an exemption that allows a tenant to utilize a property in a way normally forbidden by zoning ordinances. Just because the prior tenant had a variance does not mean you will be granted one upon taking over the property. Therefore, you could face problems if you need that same variance to operate your business.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help avoid being hampered by zoning ordinances. For instance, you can request a variance from the appropriate local government agency.
It is also possible to engage the services of a Florida commercial real estate attorney. An attorney may be able to carefully go over a lease agreement to make sure it meets your needs.