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Ask Barrister Your Own Question
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 36969
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I rented a commercial building but before I did I checked

Customer Question

I rented a commercial building but before I did I checked the zoning areas to make sure it was in a retail zone. The city told me it was in a retail zone so I signed the lease. The city also issued me 3 separate permits saying it was in a retail zone but
that's when they finally realized they made a mistake and found out my commercial lease was actually in a OFFICE ZONE the whole time. Now they will not let me open my retail store at all because of there mistakes they made. Is the city responsible for the
mistakes they made? And should they be responsible to pay the lease now? I am located in Odessa Texas. I also found 2 other retail stores the they are allowing to do business in the exact same office zone wich I am located in. I have told them about the 2
other retail zones when we had the appeal hearing and they lied and said they went to check those retail stores out and said "they were closed and nothing was in the building'' I went to check on those 2 retail stores and found out they were still open for
business and full of retail products. What should I do about my situation?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I would like to also file a discrimination lawsuit for them letting the other retail stores operate while closing mine? So you recommend me good lawyer to handle that please? Thanks.
Expert:  Barrister replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
In a situation like this, if the local zoning board has denied you a variance to use the property after initially granting one, and you have appealed their decision to any Zoning Board of Approval (ZBA) and they still denied your request, your recourse now would be to file suit in District court and argue that they are "estopped" from denying the variance based on "detrimental reliance". This is a legal term that basically means that when A takes a position that B later relies on in acting, then A is then prevented from changing their position if B will suffer a detriment.
Here, you did all your due diligence, got approval, and then relied on those representations by the city in acting to enter a lease. Then the city further strengthened your position by issuing permits. So you should be allowed a variance to operate in that location despite local zoning rules that may technically prohibit it. To fail to allow you to do so would cause you to suffer damages due to the lease you signed and the city shouldn't be able to back out on their representations that your business would be allowed to operate.
This is something that you would need to talk to a local real estate attorney who deals with zoning issues to assist with. The attorney can communicate with the city and threaten to file suit against the city for any damages that you have incurred due to their misrepresentations and negligence if they don't grant you a variance to operate. This might be enough for them to decide to grant you the variance rather than have to be dragged into court and have their incompetence put on public display.

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