unnecessary hardship n: a deprivation of an owner's right to the beneficial use of property that is caused when a zoning ordinance makes it impossible to receive a reasonable return from the property NOTE: Unnecessary hardship may justify the granting of a variance if the use permitted by the variance will not alter the essential character of the locality. Unnecessary hardship must involve unique characteristics of the property itself, not economic difficulties of the owner.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.