Grandfathered In Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Grandfathered In, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Grandfathered In?

(n) Grandfathered in is the right or sanction provided in a statute, zoning ordinance, law etc exempting a person or entity from certain provisions contained there in, to maintain their present activities, which will be affected by the new statute, ordinance etc.

History and Meaning of Grandfathered In

The term "Grandfathered in" originated in the United States during the early 20th century. It was first used to describe a clause in the Constitution of the state of Oklahoma, which was written in 1907. The clause permitted individuals who were already registered to vote to be exempt from new voting requirements put in place by a new law.

Today, the term is used in various legal contexts to describe the right of individuals or entities to maintain their present activities or practices, even if they are no longer in compliance with new or changed legal requirements.

Examples of Grandfathered In

  1. John has been operating his small grocery store in a residential area for 20 years. Despite a new zoning ordinance that prohibits commercial activity in the area, John is grandfathered in and allowed to continue running his store.

  2. The Affordable Care Act mandated specific coverage requirements for health care plans. However, plans created before the passage of the law were grandfathered in and allowed to continue without being required to meet the new coverage requirements.

  3. A new law requires all new buildings to have a certain number of accessible parking spaces, but existing buildings are grandfathered in and not required to make any changes.

Legal Terms Similar to Grandfathered In

  1. Nonconforming use: A legal term that describes the use of a property that was established before a new zoning ordinance was put in place, but no longer complies with the new requirements.

  2. Vesting: A legal term that describes a person or entity's right to use or develop property that is granted by law or a contractual agreement.

  3. Statute of limitations: A legal term that describes the time period during which legal action can be taken against a person or entity for a particular offense or violation.