When representing the seller, buyer or lessee in a real estate transaction it is often very important to work with the planning department in a particular city that the property is located to investigate and understand if any issues or problems will occur after the transaction.
It is always a good idea when in doubt to verify if any permits etc. have been recorded if a seller does not have that type of records available. I have found when these questions are asked that the personnel in the city-planning department are extremely knowledgeable.
When a client goes for their business permit they should always advise that department what, how and where they will conduct their business.
A few examples that have protected my clients in the past are as follows.
On a new lease the Lessor wanted to lease to a dance company giving lessons and who had a requirement for client parking. It was important for us to advise the Lessee that they needed to check with the city planning department and in this particular situation and in fact a conditional use permit and a variance permit were required by the planning department. We then wrote the lease with the necessary time frames to get the permits.
Another situation came about while helping a client with an FHA loan and the particular property they were interested in had a garage conversion. The end result was by obtaining the permits that showed the garage had permits with approvals by the city, the property was then approved with the additional living space.
Another important part of having a client work with the city planning department was a situation where a client was purchasing a duplex and wanted to remodel and add on to the property. Before purchasing the property we checked once again with the planning department only to find out that there was a percentage of building to land restriction.
My client was able to advise the architect and make the addition within the city guidelines.
My experience is that you always want to check when in doubt to make sure the client is aware of their options and this way any issues can be addressed prior to the close of escrow.