Getting Zoning Information

If you're thinking of starting a home business, or you already have one, you should find out what impact the local zoning rules will have on your home business.

Every public library should contain a copy of the local ordinances, including zoning rules. You can pore over these at your leisure, without alerting any government officials about your plans for a home-based business.

Perhaps an easier, although less anonymous, way to get zoning information is to contact your local planning department or zoning board. They are usually accessible through your county offices if you live outside city limits or through city hall if you live within city limits. Also, if you live in an apartment building, we suggest you contact the manager or board responsible for setting up rules for activities in the building. Similarly, find out if your neighborhood has a homeowner's association and check its policy on businesses run out of the home.

If you live in a condominium or co-op, check the lease or ownership agreement to find out if running a business out of your home is prohibited. If you rent your house or apartment rather than own it, check your lease agreement because it might prohibit a home business.

You may be able to get information about local zoning from non-government sources such as the local chamber of commerce, local industry associations, and trade groups.

Depending on your local laws, you may need a home-occupation permit or a business license to have a home office or business. The cost is usually a flat fee or a percentage of annual receipts from your business.