Jason R. Rubin
Jason R. Rubin is an entrepreneur, real estate investor and real estate attorney based in South Florida. He specializes in handling complex real estate matters and advises investors on strategies that help mitigate risk and maximize returns. In addition, Jason serves as Chief Development Officer for Richr, a real estate PropTech/FinTech startup dedicated to creating a more streamlined, equitable, and all-inclusive real estate buying and selling experience. Mr. Rubin holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from The George Washington University and also holds a Juris Doctor Degree from Nova Southeastern University’s School of Law. 

Investing in rental properties can be a great way to earn passive income and build long-term wealth. However, before you invest in a property, it’s important to make sure the property is compliant with all relevant local ordinances.

Here are four things to look for when determining if your investment property is up to code:

Zoning regulations

There are a variety of reasons why zoning regulations exist, and why it is important to understand the zoning in areas in which you want to invest. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that these regulations help to ensure public safety. By regulating where certain types of businesses and activities can take place, people can be kept safe from potential hazards.

In addition to public safety, zoning regulations also help to protect property values. Businesses that create an abundance of noise and are aesthetically unpleasant are zoned in industrial areas with other businesses in kind, and are typically located away from residential and commercial pockets of land.  

Finally, zoning regulations can also help to promote economic development. By allowing certain activities to take place in specific areas, and oftentimes providing tax incentives for investment in certain zoned areas, government can catalyze development and growth in underutilized or underperforming zones. 

Before you buy a rental property, be sure to research the zoning regulations in the area. Some areas have strict rules about the types of activities that can be conducted therein i.e. zones where you cannot short-term rent, and you don’t want to realize these restrictions exist after having made an investment. 

Zoning regulations can vary greatly from one area to another so if you’re not sure about the eligibility of a particular property to conduct a specific activity, you can consult with the local planning and zoning department of your municipality.  You can also call our office for help.  We can give you information on the regulations in your area and help you find properties that are zoned for your desired use. 

Building codes

All buildings must meet certain building code requirements, and your investment property is no exception. 

Purchasing an investment property with existing building code violations can result in costly repairs or even the need to demolish portions of or all of an offending structure. Building codes are designed to help to ensure the safety of the building’s occupants, invitees,  and the general public, by specifying minimum standards for structural integrity, fire safety, and more.

Building codes vary by city or municipality, so it’s important to be familiar with the code requirements in your area. In many cases, you can obtain a copy of the local building code from your city or county government website. Before purchasing a property, it is important to conduct a lien search that will provide you a report of outstanding liens, encumbrances, and violations, including code violations.  Please contact our office should you ever need a lien search report conducted.  We will be happy to help.  

Building codes are constantly evolving, so it’s also important to stay up-to-date on the latest changes. Your local building department can usually provide information on code updates and amendments as can your real estate attorney.

For more information on building codes, check out the following resources:

International Code Council: The ICC is a membership organization that develops and publishes a family of international construction codes, including the International Building Code (IBC), which is widely used in the United States.

National Fire Protection Association: The NFPA is a leading source of fire safety information, offering a wide range of publications, training opportunities, and other resources related to fire code compliance.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: HUD provides guidance on a variety of topics related to code compliance for residential and commercial properties, including the application of the International Building Code.

Building Codes Assistance Project: BCAP is a nonprofit organization that provides information and resources on building codes and energy efficiency standards.

Health and safety codes

Your investment property must also meet all relevant health and safety codes. This includes, but is not limited to, having working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers, as well as maintaining a clean and safe environment for your tenants.

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets and enforces standards for workplace safety. Individual states may have their own agencies that oversee health and safety compliance in specific industries or locations. Local building departments also typically have requirements for health and safety in buildings.

These codes are designed to protect people from harm, and failure to comply with these codes can result in significant fines or other penalties. Finally, complying with health and safety codes can help to ensure that a property is insurable and meets the requirements of lenders.

Health and safety codes are constantly evolving, so it is important to stay up-to-date on the latest requirements. One way to do this is to consult with an experienced real estate attorney or other professional who specializes in these issues. Another way to stay informed is to regularly check the websites of relevant state and local agencies.

Following health and safety codes can be complex and time-consuming, but it is crucial for protecting people and property. Those who fail to comply with these laws may find themselves facing significant penalties.

Business licenses and permits

If you’re going to be managing an investment property, you’ll need to make sure that both you and your tenants have all the necessary licenses and permits in place. This is a legal requirement to help ensure that both the landlord and tenant are properly registered in the jurisdiction in which they are operating, and that the business they are conducting upon the land is suitable and allowable under local law.  

While some licenses and permits can be obtained online, others require in-person applications. The process of obtaining a license or permit can be time-consuming, but it is important to make sure that your property is compliant with all relevant laws and regulations, as failure to comply can result in significant fines or result in the inability to operate the building while it is out of compliance.