Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Zoning and "Horse Privileges" on Your Residential Property

Just what are "horse privileges"? We see them touted on "For Sale" signs, but what are they and who has them and how does a property get them?  The short answer is that cities and towns and counties often have zoning ordinances that speak to the keeping of horses, and many residential properties enjoy "horse privileges," within certain parameters.  Deed restrictions might limit what residential property owners are allowed to do, but absent those deed restrictions, under the zoning laws many residential properties may be used in some way for horses.

This article offers a quick review of the "horse privileges" zoning laws in the City of Phoenix, the City of Scottsdale, and in unincorporated areas of Maricopa County. The laws will vary from city to city, town to town, and county to county, so legal assistance is advised.


The Phoenix Zoning Ordinance restricts the keeping of horses to occupant (owner or tenant)-owned horses on single-family residential property of 10,000 sq. ft. or greater.  There is no limitation on the number of horses which may be kept on a single-family lot, so long as they are all occupant-owned. Public stables or riding academies require a special permit approval and a site of a minimum size of 10 acres. Commercial stables cannot be permitted as a home occupation on residential property. The City of Phoenix provides specific regulations regarding the keeping of animals: health nuisances due to a presence of flies, odors, dust or accumulation of manure are prohibited.  Manure is to be removed at least twice each week. A premises upon which a horse is kept is expressly required to be sanitary and is subject to Health Officer inspection.

The ability to board horses for others is very limited in the City of Phoenix. No structures should be placed or erected without proper permitting. Setbacks will apply. Structures which violate setback or spacing requirements will need variance approval, and legal assistance is advised (see discussion of County below).