Operating a Home-Based Business from Your Condo or Co-Op

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2023Fact Checked

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Jeffrey Johnson

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Mary Martin

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2023

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2023Fact Checked

Condominium or co-op residents thinking of starting a home-based business should review the rules and regulations of the condominium association prior to operating a business out of their unit. All multi-family housing units, such as a condominium or a co-op, have rules and regulations that restrict activities within a building. These rules and regulations are most commonly referred to as “bylaws” and they may not allow you to operate certain types of businesses inside a unit.

In addition to reading your condo bylaws, you also need to be aware of any city ordinances where you live regarding the types of businesses that must be housed in commercial or industrial zoning areas. Even if the condo association’s bylaws permit the operation of a home-based business, city ordinances may restrict certain types of businesses from operating in a multi-family housing unit. Most often, home-based businesses involving the preparation of edible items are not permitted in multi-family housing units due to food health and safety sanitation requirements or fire code limitations. For example, if you wish to start a catering business out of your unit and the bylaws permit such a business, the city’s health department may not allow it or may require you to obtain a permit, which will most likely involve regular inspection of your unit by the health inspector. If you fail to follow any bylaws or ordinances, you could lose your business and face fines.

Generally, home-based businesses will be permitted as long as they are not disruptive or unsanitary in nature, but some bylaws may ban any and all types of home-based businesses. Courts almost always side with condo association bylaws when a dispute arises so it is extremely important to review the bylaws. If the bylaws are unclear or the business you want to start is not specifically listed in the bylaws, you can always consult the condo association.

Case Studies: Operating a Home-Based Business From Your Condo or Co-Op

Case Study 1: Jane’s Jewelry Workshop

Jane, a resident of a condominium, decided to start a small jewelry-making business from her unit. She reviewed the condo association’s bylaws and found no specific restrictions on home-based businesses. However, she discovered that the city ordinances required businesses involving the preparation of edible items to be housed in commercial or industrial zoning areas. Since Jane’s business didn’t involve food preparation, she proceeded with her jewelry workshop without any issues.

Case Study 2: Mark’s Catering Business

Mark, another condo resident, planned to start a catering business from his unit. The condo association’s bylaws allowed home-based businesses, including catering, but the city’s health department imposed strict regulations and inspections for food-related businesses. Mark had to obtain a permit and regularly pass health inspections to comply with the city’s requirements. He successfully navigated the process and operated his catering business without any violations.

Case Study 3: Sarah’s Photography Studio

Sarah, a co-op resident, wanted to establish a photography studio in her unit. Unfortunately, the co-op’s bylaws prohibited any type of home-based business. Sarah realized that pursuing her photography business within the co-op was not feasible. She consulted the co-op association to explore possible solutions or exceptions, but they upheld the existing bylaws. Sarah had to seek alternative locations outside of the co-op to establish her photography studio.

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Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Get Legal Help Today

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