City won't provide Certificate of Zoning - How to proceed?

I am under contract on a park and the city says they cannot provide a certificate of zoning. I can see on the city site the park is zoned for a mobile home park and the city has confirmed it is legal non-conforming. Would viewing the webiste + the city email provide you enough comfort or would you push for a Certificate of Zoning, something signed, etc? What is my exposure here? Just trying to understand my risk and how hard I should push for something beyond what I have now. Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

  • Certificate of Zoning No certificate exists since the park was developed prior to our adoption of the current zoning ordinance.

  • Confirmation of the official zoning (per our conversation it sounds like legal non-conforming) The site is zoned X, “Mobile Home Park”. The existing park is considered to be legal, non-conforming since it does not meet the requirements

Consider asking them to write you a letter stating that it is legal non-conforming and that it can continue to operate as a mobile home park. Also, contact the State MHA and find out which State agency governs mhp’s. See if they can provide you with something saying it’s official. What State is the park in?

Thanks for the reply and helpful suggestions. The park is in Minnesota.

It’s a huge problem because they can shut you down over time even if it is illegal. I personally have made posts about this topic on this forum, so I suggest you look for those threads. At the time, there were 5 supreme court cases supporting you, but it can take thousands of dollars to get the city to understand.

In 1 example, I had a meeting with the city building department with my attorney present. The legal fee of that 1 hour meeting was in excess of $5,000. If we filed a lawsuit to assert our rights, it would have been much more.

Point is, you could be legally in the right, but it will cost you to get the city to understand and agree. My suggestion is to hire an attorney to draft a letter of some sort certifying that the park is legally non-conforming and have them sign it. If they sign, proceed peacefully. If they refuse, you can proceed but be prepared for a large legal expense.


Personally if the city site showes the zoning to be a mobile home park and staff confirmes it is the same then I would be satisfied. They could change the zoning in the future with or without a letter so I would proceed with the purchase regardless.


Greg, we bought a property that was legal non-confirming, but the city insisted new installs follow the new code setbacks, which was impossible. It was a 2 year battle to be able to install our first home and a large legal bill. Point is just because they confirm that it is legal as a mobile home park does not mean they will allow you to replace homes. In our case, they wanted us to slowly erode to nothing because they wanted to redevelop the district into industrial.

MPark I understand, my point is a letter or any other cirtificate from the city does not garantee there would not be a legal battle in the future. Your case is a perfict example, reassurance from the city has no garantees. The only real value is in the official site plan indicating legal non conforming.

We had a similar situation and got the former city attorney involved, attended a city council meeting to explain our planned improvements for the property, and explained why the city was better off dealing with us than any other potential buyer and what we needed from them to complete the purchase.

It took some time, money for legal and lots of persistence, but it was worth it.