The world had been moving towards remote work long before the pandemic. However, the lockdowns forced the change to happen much more quickly. Soon, everyone was working from home. In 2022, most businesses have no need for big offices. If you’re considering starting a small business, you may want to avoid the expense of renting an office as well.
But what if you live in a rented condo? Are you allowed to run a small business from there? And if so, what restrictions will you have to face?
The Gig Economy
Let’s define what kind of businesses we are talking about. If you are a member of the gig economy – i.e. you work for clients on a contract basis – you can work from home without any issues, even if you are in a rented condo. This is similar to how you can work from home if you are employed by another company, no matter what your living situation.
As a freelancer, you can continue to treat your condo as any other renter would. You don’t have to inform your landlord or the condo board or HOA.
You can even continue your renter’s insurance coverage. Renters insurance covers your possessions when you are renting a home. When you’re freelancing, you can include your laptop and other equipment (although if they are particularly pricey, you may have to pay extra).
Now, let’s talk about the possibility of starting a small business in a rented condo.
Small Businesses and Leases
The question of whether or not you can start a small business in your rented condo comes down to the specifics of both your lease and your HOA. Many landlords will include a clause in the lease that you can only use the property for residential purposes. These may still apply if you continue living on the property.
Some leases will grant permission to use the property for business purposes but will include restrictions. You may not be allowed to perform certain jobs on the premises or have large meetings.
Check your lease to see if there are specific provisions. If there are, you should ask your landlord whether they are willing to negotiate to change the clause. If not, you should consider checking with your landlord in any case. If they don’t want you to run your business from the premises but have no legal recourse to stop you, they can still make your life difficult.
Of course, if there are no clauses and your landlord won’t know about your business without you telling them, you may want to stay mum about it.
Homeowners Associations (HOAs)
Your condo will have a board or a homeowners association (HOA). The concept of an HOA may not sound particularly serious, but they hold a lot of legal power. There are rules that your landlord accepted when they bought the unit in the condominium. Without accepting these rules, they would not have been able to make the purchase.
As such, you need to abide by the rules enforced by the HOA. They may not allow anyone on the property to run a business from their unit, and that will include you even if the lease has no specific clauses. If they do allow for small businesses to be run from units, they will almost certainly have regulations in place to preserve the shared parts of the building.
Again, if no one will ever know you are running a small business from your condo unless you tell them, you could withhold this information. However, if they subsequently do find out, you may suffer legal and financial consequences. Furthermore, for the purposes of registering a business, you may have no choice but to make your intentions known.
Should You Run a Business From Your Rented Condo?
If you are allowed to run a business from your condo, the question of whether you should is still pertinent. Certain businesses are easy to run from home, as they do not require in-person meetings or the use of anything but a laptop. However, if you plan on seeing clients, a residential building may not be ideal.
This may be because there is not enough privacy, you cannot control the noise levels, and many more reasons. Think carefully about whether renting a small office space is worth it instead of putting yourself through the stress of using your rented home.