Can a landlord rent real estate to a business that the property is not zoned for?

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Can a landlord rent real estate to a business that the property is not zoned for?

I have been on the same property for almost ten years with multiple landlords, to include 2 banks as well as several private individuals. Now I’ve been informed that I must vacate the property because the business is not zoned for that property. The business was located on the same site before I bought the business. The city has been by several times without mention of zoning issues over the years. The zoning has not been changed during my residency. It is a taxi company, something that cannot be hidden or obscured, licensed by the city to operate every year without issue. Now after paying rent for this month I have received a summons to appear in court regarding eviction for code violation. Is this legal or even ethical?

Asked on April 22, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

It is NOT the landlord's responsibility to make sure that his or her tenants can legally operate their business: all the landlord does is rent you space, you must make sure you can do what you want to do there. Commercial tenants need to search zoning, ordinances, etc. before signing the lease to make sure their proposed use is allowed. So that the fact that the landlord rented the space to you has nothing to do with the city saying that you are not zoned for that business.
Assuming you want to keep running this business, hire a lawyer NOW. If you have trouble getting one, or get one just before the hearing, appear at the hearing explain that you either are hiring a lawyer or just hired one and he has not been able to full review the situation yet, and ask for an adjournment (delay): it is very likely you will get one.


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