What You Must Do to Change Your Residential Property Status to Business

Something as seemingly straightforward as opening a business at home can become a nightmare of red tape if not approached the right way. This is where the expertise of town planning consultants in South Africa becomes exceptionally useful. Although you do not have to get a business trading license if you only use one room in your house and don’t employ other people, once the business expands you may need to hire staff, develop parking spaces, install signage and get more floor space. Though the next step seems logical – that of just adding another building to your property where your offices will be – it cannot be done unless the property is zoned for commercial office usage.

The problem is that you live in a house that is in a residentially zoned area. Setting up offices on a property zoned as residential is thus not permitted. Before you can expand the business, which will mean more traffic to the neighbourhood, increased security risks, and changes to their environment, you must apply for the property’s rezoning. This takes time and will certainly add to your frustration level.

Having said this, it still seems relatively straightforward, but remember that your neighbours have a say in all of it. Residents in an area not zoned for business often strongly object to rezoning. They fear the additional traffic, changing from a tranquil residential to a commercial area and then there is the problem of pollution from additional traffic, parking that has to be arranged, and the chances of hawkers and beggars moving into the neighbourhood, amongst many other concerns. Working with experienced town planning consultants in South Africa is essential as the town planners also handle the process of notifying the public, addressing their concerns and motivating your reason for rezoning.

As can be seen from the above, rezoning is not automatic. The process involves a departure from the current zoning scheme. The City Council must review the application and also any objections to it. You must also advertise your plan to set up a commercial office in the relevant newspapers, notice boards, Government Gazette, and through notices to your neighbours. All of the above takes time. Getting the departure is important before zoning approval will be given. Even with the departure given, there is no guarantee that the zoning application will be successful. In the meantime, you must run the offices from a building in a commercial property zone. Once the process is completed, you also need to ensure that all the trade licenses are in place.

Attempting to handle the process with an inexperienced town planner can mean that it takes longer, costs more, and that the outcome may not even be what you desired. This is why it is essential to work with experienced town planning consultants such as The Practice Group to avoid costly pitfalls and to ensure compliance with all the requirements.

What the Rezoning Process Entails

The zoning of a particular piece of land determines uses for the property. It can be residential, business, industrial, or agricultural. To change the usage rights of a particular property, rezoning must therefore be done. The process entails the submission of a motivation report with supporting documents, such as the plans, to the local council. It is followed by the placement of an advertisement regarding the application in the Government Gazette and the relevant local newspaper. The advertisement also calls for any objections to the application. The town planning division of the local council reviews the application and objections, whereafter the application is reviewed by the council and provisional committees and the application declined or approved.

You may also need to apply for the sub-division or the consolidation of properties. This may be necessary if you want the business to operate from a property separate to your house, if you plan on selling the business property or home separately. If the office building will not fit on the particular property and since you own the adjacent property as well, you may want to apply for consolidation of the two properties. In this way, you have more space to expand your business.

The Practice Group, as a well-established town planning company in South Africa, can provide professional assistance in all the above matters.