Do you need permission to run a business from home? The short answer is that yes, small business owners will likely need to seek permission from various authorities to run a business from home.
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The permission you need to seek – and who you need to seek it from – will depend on the type of property, whether you own it or rent it, and the kind of small business you are planning to run from home.
Can you run a business from a council house?
To run a business from a council house, it’s very likely that you will need written permission from your local council or housing association – it’s important to check with them first. They may have a form that you need to fill out and send back to apply for permission.
The good news is that many councils recognise that more and more people want to set up and run a business from home. As some businesses can be set up with just a computer, your local council may be actively encouraging people to start their own business.
You can have a look at your tenancy agreement. There may be specific wording in that agreement that prohibits you from running a business from your council house. If the council does agree to letting you run your business from your council house, there may then be further agreements to sign.
Another step is to carefully consider the type of business you’re looking to start. This is because your council may refuse you permission if they have reason to believe that your business will cause a nuisance to and disturb neighbours, or damage your home. They may refuse you permission if they believe that running a business from your home will cause a material change in usage of the property.
If you will have delivery vans coming to and from your property, visitors constantly arriving at your door, or you will be running noisy machinery, your neighbours may indeed consider your business a nuisance and a disturbance.
A good example of a business that will cause a disturbance to neighbours is a car mechanic business, because there will likely be a lot of noise and vehicles constantly coming to and from the property.
In some instances, running a business from a council property may have implications for the Council Tax you pay and also the benefits you receive.
Can you run a business from a rented house?
You will need your landlord’s written permission to run a business from a rented house. Check your tenancy agreement, too. If you do get permission, you should go about getting your tenancy agreement changed.
The good news is that your landlord can’t ‘unreasonably’ withhold or delay their consent to you running a business in the property.
A landlord might refuse permission if they think the let for your proposed business should be commercial instead of residential. If they believe your business will cause the property excessive wear and tear, or your business will cause a nuisance to neighbours, they may also refuse you permission.
Read more about running a business from a rented house.
Can you run a business from a property you own?
The first thing you need to find out is if there are any legal restrictions, or ‘restrictive covenants’, on running a business from your home. These covenants may prohibit certain uses of your home.
The property title (held by the Land Registry) will include details of any restrictions. You can also check what you were given by your solicitor when you bought the property.
Even without these restrictions, there is a risk of causing a nuisance to your neighbours, so you should consider the type of business that you’re looking to set up.
In the eyes of the law, your business will need to be more than just annoying to be a nuisance, and actually cause damage to or hinder your neighbours’ enjoyment of their properties. If the nuisance is severe enough, it could mean a trip to court, so keep this in mind.
Residential mortgages often prohibit the use of your home for running a business, so if you have a mortgage, you should check your terms. You may need to get permission from your mortgage lender, as breaching the terms of your loan could result in dire consequences (such as making it repayable immediately).
You may also need planning permission if you are making changes to your home, or if running your business will cause a ‘material change’ in the usage of your property. Checking with your local authority is likely to prevent any problems for you further down the line (getting a Certificate of Proposed Lawful Use or Development will confirm you can go ahead).
Depending on the type of business you’re running, you may need a licence from your local authority. And remember that running a business from home may affect your Council Tax, because the part of your home that you’re running a business from may be liable for business rates. You can find out more at the Valuation Office Agency.
Can I run a business from my garage?
There isn’t necessarily anything stopping you from running a business from your garage, but you will need to seek permission, as we’ve outlined above.
Whether you can run a business from your garage will come down to the type of business you are looking to set up and whether it will cause a material change in usage of the property. If your business is likely to cause a disturbance to your neighbours, for example, permission (whether it’s from the council or your landlord) may be refused.
If you own your home, and you’re not sure whether the material use is changing, it may be best to seek planning permission, as we’ve outlined above.
Do you have any stories about getting permission to run a business from home? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.