Know the rules for home-based businesses in apartments

by Tom Simplot

Sep 26, 2014

Working on your laptop in the spare bedroom used to be an after-hours event to catch up or prep for the next day. Today, the rise of the "creative economy" has created many opportunities for people to start businesses at home.

The benefits to a home-based office are many, but if you are a renter, there may be restrictions in your lease or zoning laws that limit what kinds of businesses can be in your community. The Small Business Administration offers a number of resources to understand basic guidelines:

• Know the rules and comply. Review your lease and understand the restrictions. Running afoul of the rules could result in fines or eviction and could force you to stop operating while you work out the problems. If your lease doesn't specifically address this issue and you plan to operate a company that you know could affect your neighbors, ask your management company. For example, if you will be storing lots of inventory or having meetings where parking will become an issue, find out how you can operate within the rules of the community.

• Be respectful of your neighbors. We've seen communities where the common areas and business centers operate like incubators where people can co-work. Ask you community manager about this. Also find out what the restrictions are on using their Wi-Fi for your business, as their security may not protect you.

Be respectful of neighbors. Recognize how you conducting your business in common areas could affect others' enjoyment. We have all seen that guy at the coffee shop shush others while he's on a business call. The same goes for your important call in the cabana by the pool.

It's important that renters stay within their community's guidelines so everyone can enjoy their homes.