Can You Conduct Small Business from Home? Ask the Town Planning Consultants

Can you run a business from home without getting into trouble with the municipality? It’s a common question, but the answer depends on many factors, like the type of operation, the particular by-laws of the municipality, zoning for the area, and more. The best route is to consult with town planning experts regarding your particular situation. But to help you gain a better understanding, we explain the regulations and issues surrounding home-based businesses and work-from-home issues below.

Understand zoning

The town planning scheme contains the zoning information for each piece of land within its jurisdiction. This zoning is what regulates what the piece of land can be used for and what you can erect on it. To properly organise land usage and minimise the risk of land used for purposes not suitable for where it is located, zones have been created. These zones make it easier to regulate land use for coordinated application and development to achieve urbanised development that’s sustainable.

Instead of a panel-beater business opening right next to a residential abode in a quiet residential street, the business is only allowed to function in an area zoned for such operations. This makes organised development possible to promote order, accessibility, health and efficiency within the boundaries of the town planning scheme.

Municipality’s role

The municipality must enforce these zoning regulations. Because of limited resources, the sheer number of people working from home and in many instances not informing the municipality, restrictions regarding zoning for home-business operations are not always enforced.

Understand zoning for residential properties

The zoning for residential abodes is indicated as, for instance, Residential 1, which indicates the property as not suitable for commercial use. For instance, it’s for a single-family dwelling and cannot be used for business operations.

If the piece of land is zoned for business operations, it will be indicated as a Business 1 or 2, etc. This allows for it to be used for retail, finance operations and offices, entertainment, etc. according to the zoning restrictions that apply to the particular category.

If the usage of properties for specific applications is not regulated, then heavy industrial operations can take place right next to a high-end residential property. This could severely affect property value, traffic, safety and the character of the area. To this end, it is understandable why zoning regulations apply in terms of conducting business from a particular property.

Understand mixed-use zones

In recent years, town planning schemes have been changed to allow for mix-use areas where people can operate businesses alongside residential properties. This makes it possible for some types of businesses to operate within residential areas. In these areas, people can live, work and enjoy entertainment. So, if the property lies within one of these mix-use areas, you’re more likely to be able to operate your business from home without objection by the municipality. That said, if the type of business operated affects the overall character of the neighbourhood, you can expect the residents in the area to object to its presence.

How to operate a business legally from your home

If you operate a micro business, like being a freelance creative, an accountant or financial consultant, depending on the particular town planning scheme, you will be able to do so from your home without requiring special permission from the municipality. If you now work remotely from home and log in daily to the office from your computer, you basically work only on your computer. For this, you don’t need special permission. It’s, however, best to consult with town planning experts regarding the matter or to get in touch with your municipality as the various municipalities have their own schemes.

Requirements may include that the business owner must stay at the property and that the structure on the property must mainly be used as a residential dwelling. This means that a limit on the floor space occupied by the business can be in place. The number of people employed can be limited and you may not display goods on the pavement or in your windows. There must be enough parking on the property and signs must meet specific requirements.

These are not necessarily restrictions that apply in your city’s town planning scheme. Therefore, consult with the municipality or seek professional help from town planners. Other types of businesses can be operated with permission from the municipality when you obtain consent of use rights.

Where to get guidance and help related to your particular property and business operations

Get expert advice from our town planning consultants regarding the types of operations allowed at your residence, how to apply for consent of use rights and get assistance when applying for re-zoning where relevant.

In conclusion

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