What are Houston Zoning Laws

March 1, 2023

If you are a recent arrival in Houston with plans to develop commercial properties, you may reasonably assume you need to first familiarize yourself with the city’s zoning laws. You may be surprised to learn Houston actually has no formal zoning laws.

According to the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the city’s regulations impose very few height and density restrictions. This should not lead you to assume, however, that the development market in Houston literally constitutes a “wild, wild west.” Codes do exist that regulate commercial development in the city, and if you hope to expand your real estate holdings in Houston, you should know what they are.

Houston’s development restrictions

The most common form of land-use restrictions in Houston are private deed restrictions. These are regulations established by private community groups, which city officials may enforce. Citizens may petition for the city to establish special regulations for individual communities, such as minimum lot size requirements, parking restrictions, paint colors, etc.

The other major form of development regulation is the establishment of historic districts. By establishing a district, the city requires that any development in a designated region maintains the area’s unique character.

Workarounds for land-use regulations

There are workarounds you may pursue which might allow you to develop a commercial property in an area specifically governed by deed restrictions. Typically the city only enforces such restrictions when residents report supposed violations. Thus, if you are able to negotiate with local residents to develop your property with their consent, you may do so without facing any penalties imposed by the area’s restrictions. You should not mistake this proposed solution as a substitute for legal advice, but simply information to consider when making your development plans.

Before moving forward with development plans, it is wise to speak with a real estate attorney that understands Houston’s unique zoning laws. The real estate attorneys at Quadros Migl & Crosby PLLC are experienced and knowledgeable. If you are in need of legal advise and guidance please call us today at (713) 300-9662 or contact us online to schedule your consultation.