If you are obtaining a dealers license in the State of Ohio you are required to have a display lot to display the vehicles that you are selling. The State requires a dealer to have at least a 3,500 square foot lot. This requirement is the largest lot size in the country. Many states require a dealer to have a display area with room for at least one vehicle. Many states require a dealer to have a display area that holds at least 4 to 5 vehicles. There are a couple of states that require a dealer to have space to display at least 10 vehicles.
Unfortunately the State of Ohio has a law that requires dealers to have a display lot with at least 3,500 square feet. This lot must hold about 22 to 24 vehicles. Ohio's dealer display lot requirement is the largest in the country. The State does, however, allow the lot to either be on the exterior of the building, the interior of the building, or a combination of both. So for example, you might have 1000 square feet inside the building and 2,500 square feet on the outside of the building. This would be compliant with Ohio's dealer display lot requirement.
Old Ohio Law Allowed Much Small Lot Sizes
Between 2016 and 2021 the State of Ohio had a different display lot requirement. The State either required a dealer to have a display lot that was at least 3,500 square foot, or, if the dealer was only selling 10 or less vehicles at at a time, the dealer was allowed to have room for 10 or less vehicles. So if a dealer in Ohio was only selling 10 less retail vehicles at any time the State was allowing the dealer to only have space for 10 or less vehicles. At that time the State Ohio would actually allow a display lot with as few as 2 spaces. You could actually have a display lot with only 2 spaces.
Small Lot Sizes in Ohio Create City and County Zoning Problems
However, this display lot requirement created alot of zoning headaches throughout the cities and counties in Ohio. Many city and counties in Ohio have zoning laws that affect the operation of every dealership in the State. The State law was not clear and allowed from 2 to 10 vehicles which created lots of confusion for city and county zoning coordinators. So, although many dealers in the State chose to have the smaller lot size, the State realized this was causing some problems in cities and counties and the changed the lot size requirement back to what it was initially, 3,500 square feet.
Dealer Licenses in Ohio are Regulated by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles Dealer Licensing Section
By the way, dealer licenses in the State of Ohio are regulated by the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is sometimes referred to as the BMV. The BMV has what is known at the Dealer Licensing Section. The Dealer Licensing Section is the agency that assists dealers in the State with questions about obtaining a dealers license, they can help dealers that have just gotten a dealers license, and are also available to assist dealers that have been in business for many, many years. The are a phone call away to assist any dealer with any questions they may have. If you have questions about the BMV dealer lot requirements, you can call them at 614-752-7636. The can simplify the operation of any dealership in the State of Ohio.
Under the old Ohio law, dealers were also allowed to be open only 2 hours a week. This caused a lot of problems for the Bureau of Motor Vehicle Enforcement Personnel. The BMV will often send inspectors to conduct suprise inspections at licensed motor vehicle dealerships throughout the State of Ohio. These inspections ensure the dealer is operating the dealership correctly. For example the BMV investigator will ensure the dealership is being staffed during the posted hours of operation. If a dealership is not being staffed during the posted hours a violation of the law has occured. Dealerships in Ohio are required to be staffed during the posted hours by an owner, officer, partner, or licensed salesperson. A dealer may not go the the auction for a few hours and leave the dealership staffed by a mechanic if the mechanic does not have a salesperson's license.
Out of State Residents Gaining Ohio Dealer Licenses
The BMV found out that several persons from other states were obtaining a dealers license in Ohio with only 2 spaces and were only staffing the lot for 2 hours on a weekend. BMV staff does not work on weekends so dealers that were only open for 2 hours on the weekend were never subject to compliance inspections and could basically do what they pleased under the law. So the state now requires a dealer to be open at least 25 hours a week with at least 10 of those hours on weekdays. This ensures every dealer in the State can be inspected by BMV investigators. At the same time the BMV eliminated the rule that allows dealers that are selling less than 10 retail vehicles at a time to have space for 10 or less vehicles.
Now, State law requires all dealers in the State of Ohio to have at least a 3,500 square foot lot. It is not actually possible to operate a dealership in the State of Ohio without a display lot.
If you would like to start the process of obtaining an Ohio used motor vehicle dealer license, please view our Class Schedule page to take the 6 hour dealer training course online, or in a classroom near you.