The location and complexion of today’s workplace is changing at warp speed. Increasingly, people are running their businesses out of their residential properties. If you are interested in jumping on the bandwagon but you rent, you may be wondering if you legally have this option.
The Home Office vs the Home Business
First, it is important to understand an important distinction. Some people work for a company and are allowed to telecommute from their home office. They use their own computers and telephones but must report to a boss or supervisor of a small or large company. It is not these folks we are discussing.
Instead, this article focuses on whether it is permissible to own and run a company from your rental property address. You would fall into this latter category if you store or deliver inventory to the property, if you have employees working out of the location, or if you operate or repair machinery on the property.
The Burning Question of Legality
For all practical purposes, it is not illegal to run your business from your rental property. You will not be prosecuted for doing so; nevertheless, it is important to inquire about zoning laws in your community to make sure you are not running afoul of any of them. This is especially important if you expect a major increase in street and foot traffic to the area or if the property will now primarily be used for selling goods or services and not as a home.
Exercise Common Courtesy
If you plan to use your rental address to host your business, your landlord is one of the first people who should be told. Attempting to hide or minimize your activities can lead to long-term problems in your relationship which might even lead to eviction, so prevent that by being completely transparent.
Keeping your landlord in the loop is also necessary for liability reasons. He or she may need to change some aspects of the property coverage. By the same token, you will need to look into obtaining insurance for home business that protects you in the event of property damage or third party injury.
Exceptions To the Rule
While most landlords are amenable to their tenants doing business from their property, there are some cases when the landlord might reasonably deny permission. If, for instance, the nature of your work will result in substantial wear and tear to the property, your landlord could make a reasonable case for denial.
By the same token, permission could be withheld if you are actually transforming your place of residence into a business by using a room or rooms exclusively for business activities. But as long as you take care of the property, avoid nuisances or disturbances and use it primarily as a residence, you should not run into any difficulty.
Most landlords understand that residential properties are increasingly being used as headquarters for small businesses. Demonstrating that you will continue to care for and maintain the property and that you have the appropriate insurance for a home business that will protect both of you from liability will go a long way toward giving you the permission you seek.