Do I have to get a Permit if my Short-Term Rental is “Grandfathered In”?
What is a Grandfather Right?
Can Municipalities End Your Rights Through Regulation?
- In re Brandt, 15 Wis. 2d 6, 12, 112 N.W.2d 157, 159 (1961) “Brandt was exercising a nonconforming use to mine gravel commercially and had not discontinued the use thereafter, the questions relating to a permit are moot, because he can continue his operations without any permit.”
- Kraemer Co., LLC v. Pierce Cty. Bd. of Adjustment, 2006 WI App 56, 290 Wis. 2d 510, 712 N.W.2d 86 (unpublished) (“contrary to the board’s assertions, the 1998 zoning code revisions cannot extinguish or restrict this legal nonconforming use, nor require Kraemer to obtain a permit in order to continue with this legal nonconforming use.”)
- Des Jardin v. Greenfield, 262 Wis. 43, 47-48, 53 N.W.2d 784, 786 (1952) Generally speaking, a nonconforming use existing at the time a zoning ordinance goes into effect cannot be prohibited or restricted by statute or ordinance, where it is a lawful business or use of property and is not a public nuisance or harmful in any way to the public health, safety, morals, or welfare. In other words, a zoning ordinance is invalid and unreasonable where it attempts to exclude and prohibit existing and established uses or businesses that are not nuisances. If a zoning ordinance is adopted and premises are used for a nonconforming use, the owner is within their rights in continuing that use. Zoning regulations cannot be retroactive, prior nonconforming uses cannot be removed by zoning regulation, and existing conditions cannot be affected by a new or changed zoning regulation.
Wisconsin law prevents municipalities from adopting new regulations to end pre-existing uses. Municipalities may attempt to constrain property owners with expensive permit requirement or use other regulatory means to effectively end pre-existing nonconforming uses. Fortunately, Wisconsin recognizes that individuals’ constitutional property rights cannot be easily circumvented.
Wisconsin law prevents municipalities from ending your grandfather rights by requiring you to obtain permits, pay fees, or to jump through other unreasonable hoops.