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What do you need to know about Philadelphia zoning?

Hi this is Yuriy Skripnichenko with TrustArt realty.

Today I want to discuss importance of your property zoning and current use. And how that potentially can affect your ability to legally rent your house in Philadelphia.

We often encounter investors who bought a small multifamily property thinking it was a duplex or a triplex. And after going to the L&I to get rental license they find out that the property has a single-family zoning and never had a 2-unit rental license.

I will not discuss rental license important and other documents you need to have to rent property in Philadelphia. You can find it in one of our videos in the video library.

There are a few things that you as a buyer or as investor for multifamily properties in Philadelphia should know. Zoning and current use. These are very similar terms but may be very different for you legally. Every property in city of Philadelphia has its zoning. It is publicly available information and you can always look it up online. In best case scenario your MF property should have a MF zoning as RM or RMX. However, it is pretty common in Philadelphia when zoning doesn’t match current use of the property. And that is ok. You can have a grandfathered variance for your building. Which means that you have a special approval to use your property the way that variance permits. And it may be different form your zoning.

I know it all sounds complicated. To make simpler you need to either have a corresponding zoning to your building use or a variance to use your budling if it doesn’t have correct zoning.

Before buying a property, you should receive a city certification a copy of most recent rental license that would list number of units that you’ll be able legally rent in Philadelphia.

This is not a legal advice and please consult your attorney before making any decisions on zoning or variance. In some cases, you may be able to obtain a variance for your property. However, it is a very lengthy process and costly as well.

If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to reach out to TrustArt Realty team. We’ll be glad to help you navigate this and refer you to an attorney if needed.


I am a real estate investor in Philadelphia and could not be more happy with Yuriy and the rest of the team. Yuriy himself has over 10 years experience as an investor himself and his knowledge of the geographic region has been critical to our decision making. We are currently using Yuriy as our realtor and as our property manager. He is responsive, knowledgeable, and easy to work with. He has saved us from multiple potential bad situations in looking for investments. Because of his attention to detail, our closings have been very smooth. We also have to do most of our investing out of state and the Trustart team makes it easy. I would highly recommend Yuriy and the Trustart team as a realtor or property manager for anyone in Philadelphia - we are lucky we found them when we did!

Kealan Hobelmann Rental Property Owner