Condo Association Requirements for Operating a Home Business

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Coast-to-Coast
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 2:58PM
I live in a condominium complex and they just started a program to license home businesses such as mine-stock photos. Already I have had to purchase a Home Occupation Permit, Liability Insurance, and now they want me to purchase a Master Business License for $100. Also I have fill out a mountain of paperwork. In the future the condominium association is thinking of charging its own fee in addition to the permits I have already purchased for operation of a home business. I live in the District of Columbia-Washington D.C. Does anyone know if a condominium association has the legal right to exercise this authority or have experience in dealing with condominium associations. Thanks for posting your thoughts.
sjlocke
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 3:00PM
Just wondering how they would know what you do in your own home?
kickstand
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 3:19PM
Do you make your full-time living doing photography in your home? If you do not, I think you've been swindled.

I hardly think selling 49 images on iStock constitutes a home business. Do they make 16-year-old babysitters buy a permit, too? How about folks that sell their old socks on eBay?
bobbieo
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 3:42PM
I rent a home and have a lease that states I can not run a business from my home. I spend anywhere from 8-12 hours a day online at home as a telecommuter for a corporation, living at istock and doing side work as an independent designer.

As far as my independent work, as long as I am not:
- hanging out a business shingle;
- adding my home address to my paperwork;
- have clients over to my house;
- or use my home phone number as a business number...
then I am not breaking the letter of the law for residential businesses or my lease. But this is where I live.

You might want to check with a property attorney. If you are renting or leasing, there are non-profit advocacy groups that may be able to help point you in the right direction as well.


(edited to add}
This is what I do and I am not breaking either my lease of the residential business laws for my area.

- In my full time job telecommuting from home, I am an employee in the corporation not the business owner.
- I use a cell phone for independent work (no additional charges for long distance within the U.S., so it's cost effective as well)
- My independent clients have no need to know where I live, so I meet them at their offices or coffee shops and have a PO box for buisness related stuff when neccessary.
- At this time, my photography is a hobby, so doesn't need to be claimed as a job/business.



(Edited on 2005-01-11 07:42:45 by bobbieo)
inkit
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 3:42PM
i have a friend who is a lawyer and specializes in real estate law (he used to be general council for a timeshare/condominium resort company). i'll ask him monday when i see him again.
DanBrandenburg
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 3:44PM
I almost went with a condo a few years ago -- but I reconsidered when they slapped a legal huge document in front of me describing what I can and can't do in my home, when I can take out my trash, when I can use the freight elevator (only on weekends), when I must attend meetings, how I have to pay monthly fees, when I could take out my trash (through the trash shoot that makes noise when you drop it).

It was a nice place, but they were just too weird for me.
Choppy
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 3:45PM
Blimey talk about a nanny state.
Coast-to-Coast
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 4:35PM
Unfortunately houses are too expensive here in D.C. so I have to purchase a condo. If the condo association accepts my application things might be okay for awhile but they are checking to see who is running a business and who is not. If they catch someone running a business who has not filed the proper paperwork they will assess a fine of $2000-$4000 annually depending upon the value of the unit. The manager of the condominium says I have to file an application no matter how small the business is.
Elfstrom
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 4:49PM
Heck, my rental apartment lease says I can't run a business from my apartment. It also says pets aren't allowed, but they can't enforce the no pets rule because it's against the law in Ontario. They just leave the clause in to scare people.

Generally they don't want customers or even employees coming and going, or couriers arriving all the time. That makes sense. If you were a daytrader and all you needed was a computer and a high speed internet account I don't see how anyone would ever know or be able to enforce a no-business clause.

You can also try crossing out the clause in the contract and/or inserting your own exemption for the type or nature of home-based business, but this is normally done at the initial signing of the contracts.


Back to your specific problem, where they are allowing home-based business but charging you for it an licensing you for it (what they give they can also take away!) so the best advice would be to contact a real estate lawyer in your district, it will be worth the money.
imagenhanced
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 4:50PM
Sounds like too many hoops to jump through just because you're working out of your condo.

Is there any way you could relocat?. What's to say that the condo association won't re-evaluate their program to suit their needs in, say, 6 months?

If it smells fishy and looks fishy, it usually is...
Elfstrom
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 4:51PM

The manager of the condominium says I have to file an application no matter how small the business is.


ASK FOR IT IN WRITING. SIGNED. BY THE CONDO BOARD, not the manager.

(Sorry for the shouting, but people will always try to scare you by telling you something. It's a different story when it is in writing)
zerocattle
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 4:51PM
Unfortunately insurance companies are no better for houses -- because of the "bubble" and "9/11", insurance companies have gone bananas. At least that's *their* excuse. I figure it's just greed.
fullvalue
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Posted Fri Jan 7, 2005 4:55PM
Rent a mailbox at the UPS store or similar establishment and receive all deliveries and correspondence there, use it as the legal address for your business license as they let you use suite numbers, and meet clients at the local cyber cafe or such. How do they know what you're doing in your home?
Coast-to-Coast
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Posted Tue Jan 11, 2005 5:21PM
I thought I might keep you posted as to this problem. I called the manager of the condo today. He said that my application should be accepted soon. If not I have to fork over another $100 for permits. Also I may have write a letter to the covenents committie. All this just for $50 worth of credits a year. I either have to shoot more marketable shots or quit the business.
chemc
Member is a Silver contributor and has 2,500 - 9,999 Photo downloadsMember is a contributor and has less than 250 Flash downloadsMember is a Diamond contributor and has 25,000 - 199,999 Illustration downloadsExclusiveExclusive iStockphoto IllustratorMember has had a Design Of The WeekMember has had a File Of The WeekThis member has lost their last cage match. Consider this the black eye the bully gave you after school by the bike racks.
Posted Tue Jan 11, 2005 6:28PM
Im a Aussie we dont seem to have the same rules but... Im sure with what you are doing it is more of a hobby then a business (its the same with the tax system at this amount of $$$)...
I can see why they have these rules in place if you had customers come to your door (increased traffic through the condo)... but dealing over the internet this is crazy...
It is great that you are so honest most people wouldnt even be honest enough to let the condo manager know
Hopefully your honesty pays off
Coast-to-Coast
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Posted Wed Jan 12, 2005 1:10AM
If I had a home in the suburbs this would be no problem plus I would not have to pay the monthly condo fee of $492. Home ownership has its advantages.
Jot
Member is a Silver contributor and has 2,500 - 9,999 Photo downloadsMember is a contributor and has less than 250 Flash downloadsMember is a contributor and has less than 250 Illustration downloadsExclusiveThis member has lost their last cage match. Consider this the black eye the bully gave you after school by the bike racks.
Posted Wed Jan 12, 2005 12:43PM
If its just iStock then I'm not sure why you think that you are running a business from your home. The "business" is being run from iStock's server. You don't receive post or clients or deliveries at your home, you don't produce anything within the home - your photographs are taken outside the home (assuming you don't have a studio). You may use your home computer to upload data, but you do that every time you access Google or buy something online. You may even receive payment cheques at home - I sometimes get payments for freelance work - doesn't mean I have done that work at home or am operating a business from my home.
tmccray
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Posted Wed Jan 12, 2005 1:23PM
Isn't there a certain limit that you have to surpass before income needs to be considered declared? Would this directly relate to whether something is considered a business or a hobby? I understand the reasons behind regualting home businesses but I really don't think it applies to you. I have to agree with what Jot said. In my opinion, it sounds like your condo association is trying to pull a fast one.
Elfstrom
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Posted Wed Jan 12, 2005 2:00PM
Wow, great line of reasoning Jot!
slidosam
Member has had a submission accepted to the Designer Spotlight
Posted Wed Jan 12, 2005 4:15PM
I've been working out of my home, against the rules for over 10 years.

I have 2 dogs that I can't have.

I have an art studio upstairs where I create lots of noxious fumes.

I have no gloves in my glove compartment and no coffee on my coffee table.

All furniture has been de-tagged.

And although VERY enforced, I even occassionally shit facing east, while on a north bound toilet.

99% of all rules and laws are made for the sole purpose of pissing people off.

Make a game out of ignoring as many as you can. It's fun.

Well I gotta go get another dog or rare african animal of somekind....

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