The Legality of Living on Commercial Property

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Many people wonder about the legality of living in commercial property.  Is it legal to live on commercial property – or do people have to set up living quarters in only residential property? 

Some people argue that despite not being legal, you can get away with living on these properties for free because a landlord cannot legally charge you rent for these properties.  Others point out that whether or not it is legal, it is dangerous in terms of the law, in terms of finances, and in terms of personal safety.  Keep reading to learn more about the legality of living on commercial property.

Real Estate Zoning Laws

Real estate zoning laws are often difficult to understand, but you should know that they are set up to keep people safe, to set construction standards, and to maximize profit capabilities for a town or city.  There is a big difference in definition between residential and commercial property: 

  • Residential property is meant for building houses, apartments, and other homes,
  • Commercial property is meant for building businesses that generate income. 
  • Industrial property is separate from these two properties as well.

This distinction can be difficult to understand, though, since real estate zoning laws are different throughout different towns, counties, and states.  You might realize that some jurisdictions have different positions on the differences between what can be considered commercial and what can be considered residential.  One example is as follows:  in some cases, a residential home is not commercial property even if part of it is rented to others for profit.  Apartment buildings can also be considered commercial property, even though they are residential in nature since many people live there.

The Dangers of Living on Commercial Property

You can find stories of individuals that have successfully lived on commercial property for months for free, since in some cases, it is illegal for landlords to collect rent from those living on this property.  These stories are told by individuals who lived in metropolitan areas with high residential property rent, so they squatted on commercial property to save money.  However, consider the consequences:  you will live in spaces that are not inspected to be safe and fitting for humans to live in. 

You might find yourself in rooms that do not have a quick escape in an emergency, or in a loft that is not inspected and has leaks, rodents, and pests that can cause you health problems. 

Getting Help

To learn more about the legality of living on commercial property, speak to a legal professional in your area before you make a dangerous choice.

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