Common legal traps small business owners face when operating from home

Common legal traps small business owners face when operating from home

A common oversight of small businesses is the failure to understand that planning approvals are required to run a business – whether the business is being run from your home office or a commercial premises.

You can operate a business from home without Council approval only if it meets all the following criteria:

  • It employs no more than 2 employees (other than those living in the residence),
  • It has no adverse impact on the amenity of the neighbourhood by reason of the emission of noise, vibration, smell (including cooking smells), fumes, smoke, vapour, steam, soot, ash, dust, wastewater, waste products, grit or oil, traffic generation or otherwise,
  • No more than one business identification sign is displayed,
  • Any goods offered for sale are produced in the home business (goods sold on the internet cannot be collected from the premises),
  • Your business does not involve the manufacture of food products, and
  • Your business does not involve any skin penetration procedures (which include beauty treatments such as body waxing, nail treatment, cosmetic enhancements, chemical peel, tattooing, piercing, acupuncture, blood cholesterol and glucose management).

Home hairdressing businesses must also comply with the Hairdressers Act 2003 and home food businesses must comply with the Food Act 2003.

Commercial Premises

If your business does not fall within the specific categories described on the development consent for the building you may be breaching the consent, even if you are only a tenant.

Existing commercial premises will be operating with development consent from Council.

Development consents may be many years old and are often not well understood.  A breach of development consent is an offence, and it is important to understand what is permitted.

Consent conditions related to any number of aspects such as hours of operation, types of industries, parking restrictions and environmental management plans.

We have advised where clients whose business operating from a commercial warehouse did not neatly fit into the terms of permissible development listed in the development consent. We were able to assist by advising on how the business operations could meet the conditions of development consent and permit the business to continue to operate.

Talk to a Local Government Lawyer if you need assistance identifying what approvals you might need to ensure compliance or identifying your applicable development consent.

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