Unnecessary Hardship Law and Legal Definition

Unnecessary hardship is a term commonly used in zoning law to justify the grant of a variance from zoning regulations. The applicant must demonstrate that under applicable zoning regulations, the applicant is deprived of all economic use or benefit from the property in question, which deprivation must be established by competent financial evidence.

The following generally must be proven to show an unnecessary hardship:

  • The applicant cannot realize a reasonable return, provided that lack of return is substantial as demonstrated by competent financial evidence;
  • That the alleged hardship relating to the property in question is unique, and does not apply to a substantial portion of the district or neighborhood;
  • That the requested use variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood; and
  • That the alleged hardship has not been self-created.