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Any laws against operating a small office from an apartment in the ACT?

By janeycomelately - 19 August 2008 23

I was wondering whether any RiotACTers knew of any laws or regulations that would prevent a small business to operate from a residential apartment or townhouse in the ACT?

Given the scarcity and cost of commercial leases, working from a residential place is looking like a real option.

I can’t seem to find any legislation nor can I find anything against it in some of the generic body corporate agreements I’ve read. 

It would be a 9-5 business with mainly just an employee or two working at one time.

(And before you ask, it would be office-stuff not ‘personal services’.)

What’s Your opinion?


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23 Responses to
Any laws against operating a small office from an apartment in the ACT?
janeycomelately 1:18 pm 19 Aug 08

You RiotACTers are so great – thanks heaps for your advice and suggestions, we will certainly follow through with them now.

Mr Evil 1:17 pm 19 Aug 08

shauno said :

As its a free country I cant see why there would be a problem doing this. Oh yeah hang on I forgot its the most over governed free country on earth so yeah I expect there would be some rule against it.

Yeah, make sure you don’t have a pussy cat or a dog – as thets bound to upset someone!

Clown Killer 1:08 pm 19 Aug 08

Les is pretty well on the money. It depends what sort of business you’re in and whether you’ll be having a bunch of clients coming and going and causing parking problems.

In the right context you mighn’t have to face a hostile body corporate. A colleague of mine was running a two person business out of a unit in Red Hill for years – it was a small building and the other tennants/owners liked the fact that there was someone there during the day when everyone else was at work and no noise issues at night – perfect tennants really.

jimbocool 12:29 pm 19 Aug 08

Gee there’s some shocking typos in that form. A lot of it is planning gibberish too – time for a plain english re-write, ACTPLA people, and double check for typos when you’re done.

les 12:23 pm 19 Aug 08

Home business, as defined in the Territory Plan, needs to comply with the Home Business Code http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/ni/2008-27/current/default.asp Best to check with ACTPLA on any requirements for a DA. There are requirements such as parking availability, no more than 2 or 3 employees, one of the employees must live in the residence.

hk0reduck 12:23 pm 19 Aug 08
hk0reduck 12:21 pm 19 Aug 08
Overheard 12:20 pm 19 Aug 08

Back when I registered mine (2003), there was a separate mob that provided all sorts of good advice and tips on all manner of small business issues, but I can’t recall the name. May be buried in my papers/e-files at home. From a quick trawl around the business site, they may have been succeeded (sp?) by the Business Point mob run out of Deloitte.

You could start with a call to the Office of Fair Trading and see how you go. You may get a couple of call forwards to start with though.

jimbocool 12:16 pm 19 Aug 08

It’s a planning issue. you will need to apply to ACTPLA for ‘approval to operate a home based business’ or something like that. This is a bit like lodging a DA, as ACTPLA will write to the neighbours lettting them know about the application and providing an opportunity for them to lodge any objections. If it’s going to be more than a sole trader type thing (say an accountant working form the study) you can expect objections unless there is plenty of parking. You will also have to deal with the body corporate which is a whole other world of hurt…
Of course you could just go ahead anyway without getting approval, but you will almost certainly get busted (or have the drug squad raid your house after reports of suspicious comings and goings) after neighbours complain about the traffic.

janeycomelately 12:09 pm 19 Aug 08

These are very useful comments, especially the insurance one.

I have though looked on business.act.gov.au and it’s very hard to actually find anything on there as things link off to other pages and then I have to really dig deep to make any sense of it.

We would not expect too much traffic in our little office, only the occasional visit from clients (we’re more likely to go out to them). Very keen to hear of any other experiences.

Overheard 12:05 pm 19 Aug 08

Check the fine print on any insurance policies you have too. If you don’t declare the fact that you’re operating a business it could void a claim.

shauno 12:05 pm 19 Aug 08

As its a free country I cant see why there would be a problem doing this. Oh yeah hang on I forgot its the most over governed free country on earth so yeah I expect there would be some rule against it.

S4anta 11:59 am 19 Aug 08

The only obstacle in this whole arrangement is whether the nighbours crack it over increased visitors, noise, parking issues etc.

Check the specific body corporate, tenancy agreement you have/will sign, there may be some words in here that will either poo bah the whole idea, or give you a spcific set of criteria that needs to be addressed (usually checking with neighbours, ensuring signage isnt offense etc, appropriate sign-offs from governments, ato etc).

justbands 11:56 am 19 Aug 08

My brother started (& ran for a couple of years) his business at home. I’m sure it’s perfectly legal, just talk to the ACT Gov (try business.act.gov.au) first.

Aurelius 11:54 am 19 Aug 08

I worked for a small company in Hawker about 10 years ago that had set up a 3BR house as an office. But because of traffic/parking issues, they were reported to the relevant authorities and were forced to move to commercial premises.
So the laws are there. Suggest speaking to Planning Dept about them.

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