Going through the process to consolidate or subdivide a lot in Philadelphia has many steps. This post will walk you through the steps that you need to take.
Step 1: Get a Survey & New Legal Description(s)
In order to start the process, you will need to have a civil engineer / land surveyor come out and conduct a survey of the land. From there, they will create a survey that shows the lot as it currently exists and the proposed lot configuration lines. The survey company will also provide you with a new legal description if you are consolidating two lots into one, or multiple new legal descriptions if you are dividing the property up into new parcels.
The survey district will have to approve the plans and the new legal descriptions by supplying a stamp from the survey department. Typically, whomever you hire to do the survey will submit the survey to be approved by the department, but just make sure that is the case by verifying with them.
Step 2: File a Zoning Permit
You read that right. You will need to go through the process to obtain a new Zoning Permit approving the relocation of the lot lines. It seems weird because this is not a building, addition, or use approval, but moving lot lines falls under a the requirement of a zoning verification.
However, if you are planning on developing something, you can apply for the relocation of the lot lines on the same zoning permit application for whatever you are going to develop, build, or open. If you look at a bunch of different zoning permits, you will often see the zoning application say something like, “permit for the relocation of lot lines to create two lots from four existing lots (addresses) for the erection of attached structure for use as a coffee shop in space on the first floor and for 10 residential units on the 1st through 4th floors…”
Step 3: Submit a Package to the Office of Property Assessment
Besides determining what every property in the city is worth, The Office of Property Assessment is responsible for issuing your OPA account numbers. They must be notified of lot subdivisions and consolidations because it affects the value of the property. Plus, you need a new address and they are the ones that provide that/those. The following must be included in your package to the OPA:
- Approved Survey
- Approved Zoning Permit
- Legal descriptions
- A cover letter that includes:
- Current OPA addresses + account numbers
- The address(es) that you would like to use for the new configuration
- A statement that you intend to record the new deed(s) with the Department of Records
- That you will notify the OPA when you have the recorded the deeds in order to provide them with the Deed Document ID Numbers, plus contact information for where the statement for the proposed OPA addresses/account #s should be sent.
Step 4: Record the New Deed or Deeds
Whenever you obtain the new legal description(s) from the land surveyor, pass these along to your real estate /zoning attorney. Your attorney will use the legal descriptions to create the new deeds or deed.
Once you have the new deed(s), they must be recorded with the Department of Records. Don’t forget this step. Remember in Step 3 you promised the OPA that you intended to record the new deeds? Now that you have recorded them you need to let the OPA know that you have done so, and also provide them with the Deed Document ID #s.
Pro tip: Don’t forget to make a copy of everything along the way and save it for your records. Lot’s of changing of hands and often the city can lose or misplace things. You will want proof of everything you have done and paid for.
How Long Does This Take?
Like any process that involves design professionals, permitting procedures, and city department, timelines are a mystery.
However, you can expect the survey aspect of the project to take at least two months, the zoning permit acquisition at least another two months or so (unless you are also obtaining a variance– then add in at least 4-6 months minimum), and the OPA submission package and deed recording to take at least another month. So you are looking at about 6 months, maybe 3-4 if thing move fast.
If you need assistance with this process, you know who to hit up. We also work alongside attorneys that can provide deed creation services for you as well.