Good fences make good neighbors. What to do when the fence is in the wrong place.
What is a zero-lot line?
A zero-lot-line property is one where a home or building has at least one wall placed on the boundary line of the property, leaving virtually no room between the building and the boundary line. This can occur when individual plots are small, and it maximizes living space at the expense of the yard. Another term commonly used to describe a zero-lot line home is a narrow lot home.
Zero-lot-line property either directly sits on boundary lines or is so close to them that there is virtually no space left over on the lot, hence “zero lot.” In such a situation, there is often little yard area, but the house may be larger to fit within the boundary. Having a zero-lot-line property can affect its value.
In a real estate situation with zero-lot lines, it’s possible for the properties to be completely adjacent. It’s up to the owners to know where their property lines are so as not to accidentally build on the other’s lot, because space may be tight.
Zero-lot-line homes commonly are found in urban renewal locations, cluster housing developments, and anywhere it’s desirable to provide high-density buildings. By essentially sticking as many people together in a single residential area, zero-lot-line buildings often fulfill the same function as condominiums or other types of multi-unit residential buildings.
Not all zoning laws permit the construction of zero-lot-line buildings. Such laws also dictate the rights of a property owner to construct or modify buildings on their property, especially in relation to a neighbor’s boundary lines. These zoning restrictions even extend to flora like trees or hedges.
Are you a first-time homebuyer considering a zero-lot-line home? Use our mortgage calculator to see what you can afford.
Zero-lot line examples
Carol wants to buy a home in a suburban community. Before taking out her mortgage, she researches the lot’s boundary lines and finds that the front and both sides of the home she wants are right up on the boundary lines. She wonders if this is an acceptable compromise because the house is such a great deal, and decides that since she doesn’t plan to make any exterior renovations that she’ll take the home.