The title deed of the property may contain conditions that restrict the running of any business or certain types of businesses on the property. It may also contain restrictions on the extension or expansion of the buildings on the property, which in turn may also restrict you from expanding your offices. It is, therefore, important to conduct a due diligence on the property and ask your attorney or property specialist to draw a copy of the title deed and review such for any restrictions.
You will also have to look at the zoning of the property. Zoning refers to the division of a city into zones which in turn restricts the type and number of buildings and their uses in that zone in order to facilitate the proper use of land. To determine under which zoning your property falls, you can contact your local authority for clarification or ask your attorney or property specialist for help to do so.
It must be noted that each local authority will have different by-laws and rules governing zoning. Therefore, it may be that even though certain businesses may operate in a zone, other businesses are not allowed. Once you establish the zoning of your property, you can then determine whether the zoning is for residential and/or business purposes. Should business activities be allowed, it may also be prudent to ensure that you discuss the type of practice you will operate with your attorney or property specialist to ensure that your practice falls within the business activities allowed. It may happen that your initial practice is allowed, but that you are limited in the options for expanding your practice later. Again, a thorough due diligence beforehand will help avoid issues later.
Should it transpire that your zoning does not allow your type of intended business activity, then you could apply to have the property rezoned. A rezoning application can be lengthy and costly, and you will need to involve the services of your attorney as well as a town planner to assist you with the necessary applications. It is also not a given that your application will be successful. Without your local authority’s approval for a rezoning of the property, you will not be able to lawfully conduct your practice on the property.