A Certificate of Zoning Compliance certifies the number of residential dwelling units at the property that are legal under the Chicago Zoning Ordinance. Under the ordinance, a dwelling unit is "one or more rooms arranged, designed or used as independent living quarters for a single household. Buildings with more than one kitchen or more than one set of cooking facilities are deemed to contain multiple dwelling units unless the additional cooking facilities are clearly accessory and not intended to serve additional households."
The Department of Housing and Economic Development makes an initial decision within five business days after an application is received. When the number of legal dwelling units cannot be certified based on a review of the ordinance and city records, an inspection of the property is performed.
The following information is required:
Certificates, if approved, are issued within five business days (not including date of filing, weekends or holidays) and held at the department's Certification Window. After seven days, certificates are mailed to the applicants.
If certification is denied, the contact person listed on the application will be notified. Any person whose application is denied may request that the Zoning Administrator reconsider his or her determination. If such a request for reconsideration is made, the Zoning Administrator shall review any additional information presented and shall have an on-site inspection of the property conducted, even if an on-site inspection was previously made. No on-site inspection shall be conducted without the prior written consent of the owner or the owner's agent. Within five business days after the request for reconsideration is made, the Zoning Administrator shall render a final decision which shall consist of either issuance of the certificate or issuance of a written statement setting forth the reasons for denial. The failure of the Zoning Administrator to act within five business days of the request for reconsideration shall be considered a waiver of the requirement for the issuance of a certificate.
A certificate does not authorize a property owner to expand a dwelling unit that is a nonconforming use. A nonconforming use is a use that was lawfully established in accordance with the zoning regulations in effect at the time of its establishment but is no longer allowed by the use regulations of the zoning district in which it is now located. A nonconforming use cannot be expanded without an administrative adjustment from the Zoning Administrator or a variation from the Zoning Board of Appeals.