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Home-Based Businesses in Condos


According to the U.S. Small Business Administration statistics, over half of all small businesses begun in the last decade have been home-based – that’s more than 38 million in real numbers – with a new home-based business being launched every 12 seconds. And according to U.S. Census figures, over 100,00 New Yorkers work from home, with more switching all the time. Home-based businesses (HBB) earn more than $427 billion per year.

For instance, Dana Greco, a therapist specializing in marriage counseling and divorce meditation faced rising office rental rates in her native New York City. She opted to make use of her empty second bedroom to see clients. Living on the ground floor next to the entrance doors, she would escort her patients into her apartment as soon as they buzzed the building front door. One day she received a letter from the managing agent instructing her that she was to cease and desist running her practice from her home.

HBB Regulations in different areas:

New York City

In New York City, there are various restrictions already in place that apartment-dwellers must follow, from location to size and what type of business it is and what they can sell.


Chicago has similar regulations to New York. The ordinance prohibits direct sale of any product or display racks. Bulk deliveries must be limited to one per day and may occur only between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. There are restrictions on the number of patrons that may be present at any one time and during a 24-hour period. The list of prohibited uses is very similar to that outlined above for the New York City ordinance. The City of Chicago also charges $250 for a home occupation license which must be renewed every two years.


Florida regulations are less stringent. According to Gloria Moreda, manager of the land Development Coordination office in the Tampa, Florida zoning office, reported that, “home occupation is permitted in Tampa. It is referred to as special services and includes professional home offices, crafts, and a one chair beauty salon.”

Miami-Dade County Zoning Code, Section 33-25.1 governs home occupation use in its jurisdiction. It is very similar to the Tampa ordinance in that it provides accommodation for single chair beauty salon use as well as typical ‘home office’ occupations. It also prohibits the effective operation of a retail store or a food concern. It does though permit more than one home office in a single residence as long as the total square footage dedicated to office use does not exceed 200 square feet.

What’s Permitted

So, what kinds of businesses can be run from a co-op or condo unit? Personal consultancies – often computer based – such as writing or research are good examples, along with therapy and counseling services.

In co-ops, the subject of home-based offices is dealt with specifically in the proprietary lease. “Some allow for what is known as home occupation accessory use,” says Phyllis Weisberg, a co-op and condo attorney and a partner with the law firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoades, LLP which has offices in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. “An office use permitted in a residential building is limited with respect to square footage and employees. You must comply with the law,” she said.



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