If your workplace is also your home, local zoning rules may affect you. While some localities have no zoning laws related to working at home, cities and towns that do have zoning laws usually prohibit or restrict working at home. The main rationale behind these prohibitive or restrictive zoning laws is to maintain the residential character of a neighborhood. On the flip side, it is often illegal to live in some commercially zoned areas where you are running a business.
Local zoning laws can impose many types of restrictions that will affect your ability to maintain a home office or business. Some localities restrict the right of property owners to build separate structures. There may also be restrictions on how much of your home can be used exclusively for your home office or business. For example, in Chicago you may not use more than 10 percent of the home exclusively for business. Local zoning laws can limit the number of employees you are allowed to have, or may not allow you to have any employees working in your home (other than domestics).
Zoning ordinances may also affect your ability to advertise or run your business. For example, some local ordinances prohibit advertising signage to maintain the residential character of neighborhoods. Many communities also have parking restrictions that could seriously impact your ability to conduct business. Restrictions on the amount and type of vehicular traffic in residential areas can also be an issue.
Zoning rules may also impose environmental restrictions or prohibitions on home businesses. Noise, smoke, and odor can all be subject to zoning rules. Certain types of equipment are prohibited due to environmental concerns. The disposal of chemicals, hazardous substances, etc., may also be regulated by zoning. These restrictions may prevent you from operating certain types of businesses from your home.
Other zoning issues to consider: