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    hoping for a grandfather clause

    hoping for a grandfather clause

    New postby myoung on Sat Jul 30, 2011 10:24 am

    Bought a home in W. Hazleton, PA. Bought it with the intention to rent it to college students, one being my daughter. Closed in August, 2007. Called the zoning officer at the time to make sure that what I was doing was OK. I live in NJ and they are very tight on this and I knew to check. I was told that I can rent to whoever I want and that there was no C/O requirement to close title. After closing I called zoning official again to find what I needed for a C/O to rent the property. He informed me there wasn't any C/O required for tenancy. In 2008 I applied for a roofing permit and asked them for an inspection. A permit was required but an inspection was not. 2010, I get a call from the new Zoning officer informing me he needs to inspect the home. He obtained a list of Landlords from the college. I let him in. He told me the ceiling upstairs in the 2 bedrooms was not up to code. Its a cape cod with slanted ceilings upstairs and the highest flat part was only 6"5" and 1/3 of the space must be at least 7'. Even my taking the flat part out would not add up to at least 1/3 space. He said I was not grandfathered in and I wanted to check that accuracy out with you. The old zoning officer never informed me of this code, or I would have just dormered it when I put on the new roof. Is there such thing as grandfathering the ownership or person if in fact I was misinformed? Michele Jaguar3@optonline.net my first time doing this, I hope I am doing it right. If not, sorry.
    myoung
     
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    Re: hoping for a grandfather clause

    New postby Jerry Peck - Codeman on Sat Jul 30, 2011 2:01 pm

    Hi Michele,

    There is, in most locations, some type of "grandfathering in" of existing structures - with conditions. One of those conditions typical is that the structure is a legal structure (i.e., was constructed to the code applicable at the time of construction and met local zoning, etc., requirements applicable at the time of construction) and another is that the use and occupancy of the structure does not change.

    This is from the 2006 International Existing Building Code and addresses the above with a twist (see bold text): (bold and underlining are mine)
    - 101.4.2 Buildings previously occupied. The legal occupancy of any building existing on the date of adoption of this code shall be permitted to continue without change, except as is specifically covered in this code, the International Fire Code, or the International Property Maintenance Code, or as is deemed necessary by the code official for the general safety and welfare of the occupants and the public.

    From your description, the use and occupancy has not changed, however, and also from your description, I'm not sure your house was a legal structure at the time of construction. No code that I am aware of allows/allowed for a ceiling height as low as you describe yours to be.

    That indicates that, somewhere along the time line of the structure's life, changes were made and the upper floor was converted from attic to living space.

    You may likely need to go to the building department and see if they have the plans and permit information for your house, they may not have it in paper, but may have it digitally or on micro-fiche. IF they do have the construction permit information, you may find that the building was not constructed as you bought it, and thus it would not be grandfathered in.

    However, IF the building was constructed as it is now, you have a good chance of presenting that information from the building department and having its status changed to 'non-conforming legal structure', which means it would most likely be able to remain as it is until something big happens and the cost of repairs, alternations, etc., equals greater than 50% percent of the value of the structure, in which case the local building department may well call for the entire structure to meet current codes.

    Note that the Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code, in Part XIV, included the 2006 International Existing Building Code.
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