Can I Use My Apartment Address for My Business? [What to Know]

Operating a home-based business seems straightforward at first. You decide on an idea, write a business plan, choose a name, set up your office, register your business, get a business license and get to work!

But what if you rent or live in an area with a strata or homeowner's association (HOA)? Are you allowed to operate a business from your home? Can you use your apartment or rental address for business?

Although the answer may change based on where you live and your specific situation, we've gathered these general guidelines to put your mind at ease and help you get your business started on the right foot.

Can I use my rental address for my business?

Asking, "Can I use my apartment address for business?" is a great question.

The good news is, in general you don't need to actually own the property to register it as a place of business.

But while it may be perfectly legal to register a business at your rental address, there may be zoning issues that prevent you from operating certain types of businesses or language written into your lease or HOA guidelines preventing "income-producing activities" or limiting the scope of how you operate a home-based business. 

Before setting up shop, check the fine print of your agreements, speak with your landlord or building owner and consult with a knowledgeable local business attorney so there are no surprises.

How zoning affects home-based businesses

Local zoning laws restricting home businesses are generally there to maintain the residential nature of an area. For example, in New York City, residents are permitted to operate a home business as long as it does not "occupy more than 25% of the residence—up to 500 square feet—and no employees may work on-site."

Other restrictions could include the ability to build additional structures on the property, parking, advertising and environmental. An example of environmental restrictions is a noise bylaw, which could prevent a music instructor from operating a home-based business from their apartment yet allow a blogger to operate their business without issue.

If you run into a zoning restriction at your residence, you may be able to secure a variance allowing you to operate your business anyway. However, dealing with government bureaucracy can be a long, frustrating process so it may be advisable to find a location free from restrictions to operate your business from. 

When having a separate business location is best

Many small business owners enjoy operating from their residence. However, for growing LLCs or businesses that regularly meet in person with clients, conducting business in another location may prove to be the stronger choice.

For entrepreneurs who only require occasional secondary locations, renting a spot at a coworking space or booking the occasional meeting room may be the perfect mix of working from home and conducting business in a professional setting.

Another consideration for home-based business owners is where to register their business. They could use their private residence, or they could choose to use a virtual office, which allows business owners to work from home while using a professional business address.

Tips for working from your apartment

Once you are past the legal hullabaloo and you're ready to launch your business from your apartment, here are a few tips for finding balance in the place you live and work.

● Maintain a consistent work schedule

When you work for yourself, it may feel needlessly formal to have a structured work day with regular starting and stopping hours. However, having a time structure helps you keep a healthy work/life balance.

● Create a separate workspace

When working from home, the line between work and play can be blurred. Having a designated office or work station can help keep the lines clear and allows your brain to switch on and off from work mode easier.

● Dress for work

It may not matter to your clients whether you dress in business casual or loungewear, but dressing appropriately for work has a subconscious impact on everything from your confidence to your productivity.

● Take breaks

No matter where you work, it's important to take breaks to clear your head and process your emotions. Getting outside and changing your scenery becomes even more important when you spend all day every day in the same location.

● If you share your dwelling with others, set clear boundaries and guidelines

When you're working, what do you expect from those you live with? It's important to have these conversations ahead of time so everyone can be on the same page and working with a common understanding.

● Consider noise

Working from your apartment means you may be subject to noises outside of your control, such as passing sirens, nearby construction, dogs barking, children crying or even a neighbor's music blaring through the walls. Do what you can to mitigate these distractions with noise-canceling headphones and a favorite playlist.

There are many benefits to working from home, including no commute and lower overhead costs, and it is becoming more normalized in Western culture. However, remote work can be frustrating if you lack space, privacy and a good amount of time to focus. Doing what you can to set up an ideal work environment in your apartment could make all the difference!


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