Police Power in Real Estate: Definition & Examples

Instructor: Tisha Collins Batis

Tisha is a licensed real estate agent in Texas. She holds bachelor's in legal studies and a master's degree in criminal justice.

In this lesson, we define and provide examples of police power in real estate. Upon completion, you will have a firm grasp of this power in real estate.

Private Property

Macee just bought a new house. She wants to extend her garage so that it goes all the way out to the street. Instead of looking into any permits she might need, she decides to build the garage. After putting $3,000 of labor and materials into the project, an inspector from the city shows up and tells her she can't build without a permit. He makes the workers stop, and now Macee doesn't know what to do. Can a city inspector do that? She thought she owned her own property.

What Exactly is Police Power?

Macee found herself in a situation of police power in real estate. The government has the right to enact regulations for the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Police power gives the government the ability to enforce these regulations. Regulations that govern zoning, city planning, building codes, and health standards fall under police power. The city, county, and local governments are delegated their police power by state governments.

Is this shack a hazard?


Here are some examples of how cities or states enact police power in real estate.


Mold in homes can cause extensive damage and serious health issues for residents. The Connecticut Department of Public Health became aware that citizens were being advised (or even required) to have homes tested for mold during real estate transactions. Since the department has police powers that ultimately give them the authority over public health standards, they addressed this problem in a publication that was available to the public. It outlined the different signs and dangers of mold, abatement methods, and different ways to test for mold.

Historic Zoning

One unique type of zoning is historic zoning. The purpose of historic zoning is to preserve historic structures. If an individual purchases a home in a historic district, for example, they may not be able to make changes to the structure itself aside from repairs or restoration. The structure will have to remain as it was under the historic plan. An official list of structures that are historic can be found on the National Register of Historic Places. A homeowner can't just make any changes that he or she wants.

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