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I live in Grande Prairie, Alberta, and I noticed that some commercial properties in town are very affordable. I don't plan on starting a business nor do I plan on trying within this year.

I did try researching my city's bylaws, but all I could find was the purposes that I could use my property for based on zoning, none of which were relevant to personal use.

Is it legal to live on commercial property? And as a partially overlapping question, it legal to own the property without using it for commercial purposes?

  • I don't know for certain, thus a comment, rather than an answer. The property may need to be zoned commercial/residential. It may need to have a full kitchen and bath. Any bedroom may need an exterior window, etc. Property taxes may be higher for commercial property. – mkennedy Apr 5 '18 at 17:59
  • This would depend upon the exact language of the zoning ordinance in question. – ohwilleke Jun 1 '18 at 17:16
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The way you describe it makes it sound like sort of neighborhood in transition-meaning the businesses have either closed or left and there's still a few stragglers. I would talk to a realtor in that area and simply ask, that is probably the quickest way to find out.

I did it with one of my commercial properties once. The city was surprised to find me there after they filed an eminent domain action on the property.

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Yes, it can be legal. You would have to rent a commercial property, and then make it a motel. Then you can make it residential for you, by not letting anyone else use the motel.

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    Do you know of any actual precedent case where courts / local administrations accepted this arrangement? Or is it just some legal loophole you think you discovered? – Philipp Jun 1 '18 at 9:18
  • @Philipp that's a good question. Furthermore, there are of course regulatory requirements implicit in "then make it a motel," so it's probably not as easy as it sounds. Jarri: one might also consider keeping the motel nominally open to the public but charging outrageously high rates. If someone does book, it would at least be worthwhile to accommodate them. – phoog Jun 1 '18 at 17:27

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