What Is a Land Use Variance and Do I Need a Lawyer To Obtain One?

Most American municipalities, including Seattle and Tacoma, impose certain regulations on the way that land within their boundaries is utilized. Regulations designate land as residential, commercial, industrial, or mixed-use. Each designation imposes certain restrictions on the activities performed or types of structures that may be built on a particular parcel.

Variances can allow for significant exceptions to land use regulations

In many cases, people may want to utilize a piece of land in a way that does not comply with existing regulations. For example, regulations may prevent a landowner or leaseholder from starting a business or building the home of their dreams and can have a significant impact on a personal value of a piece of property. Fortunately, in many cases, parties who wish to use their land in a noncompliant way can request a variance from the appropriate governing authority. In Seattle, the agency from which to request a variance is the Seattle Department of Planning and Development1 while, in Tacoma, it is the Planning and Development Services Department.2

Do I need a real estate attorney to obtain a land use variance?

Although it is perfectly legal and possible to handle the process of obtaining a land use variance on your own, the assistance of an real estate attorney can be extremely helpful. The procedure itself and the law governing whether land use variance will be granted can be extremely complicated, and may implicate both state and federal law. By retaining an attorney, you can be certain that your request for a land use variance will be handled appropriately, cutting time costs and increasing your chance of approval.

Contact a Seattle real estate lawyer today to schedule a free case evaluation

Individuals or businesses who are seeking a land use variance should retain legal counsel as soon as possible. In many cases, obtaining a variance could be the difference between the success or failure of a potentially lucrative business opportunity. To schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Seattle real estate attorneys, call our office today at 253-572-1000 or send us an email at reception@dicksonlegal.com.


1 http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/default.htm
2 https://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/


Attorney Robert Dickson

Attorney Robert DicksonThe core of Rob’s legal practice is civil litigation, with an emphasis on construction, real estate, and business law. He represents a wide range of clients, from large construction companies to individual homeowners. His is a practical approach to law, which strives to balance the need for a successful legal outcome with a client’s financial goals (or constraints). Outside of his private practice, Rob serves as an adjunct professor at the Seattle University School of Law where he teaches real estate litigation. [ Attorney Bio ]