can I use or rent my condo as an office?

If I move to a bigger place and rent my tiny condo to somebody that uses it only as an office, am I violating any zoning or other regulations?

At first I assumed this wouldn’t be legit, as you cannot make a home into a business establishment without first going through some zoning board process. Right?

But what is the difference between my using it, or a renter using it, as a “home office” (sleep and work there), vs. a renter just using it as an “office office” (e.g., 9 to 5). (Assuming they don’t run retail out of it, make widgets there, or have lots of people coming and going.)

Or does it depend on where it falls in some typology of businesses (depending on local variations in ordinances)?

Local ordinances aside, you might be violating the condo association rules.

We’ll need your address and a copy of the CC&R’s.

General answer: many areas require a permit for a home office and all restrict what can be done in a residential zone. Most condo associations limit whether you can rent a condo at all, and many have further limitations on home offices.

Not knowing the zoning that applies to your condo, my professional opinion would be dear God, yes you’ll be in violation. Zoning regulations for home occupations in residential districts always prohibit the non-residential use of a dwelling unit, unless you’re also living there, and the home occupation doesn’t disturb the residential character of the area (e.g. traffic, visitors to a home-based business, percentage of the dwelling unit devoted to the business, parking, and the like.) You’ll also likely be in violation of any covenants you agreed to when you bought the condo.

You won’t make it past a “zoning process”. What you’re asking for is called “spot zoning”, where you’re asking for a benefit conferred to you that normally isn’t permitted by the underlying zoning, to the determent of surrounding property owners. There’s also a community’s comprehensive plan that governs the future land use in an area.

All that matters is what the zoning code says. You might think that one condo as an office might not be a big deal, but what if half of the people in the building converted their residences to office space?

It would depend on how many square footage and how many hours you are using as the office. One room in the evenings and weekends? Probably okay. Three rooms seven hours a day? No.

In these parts, a condo or house has to have at least one bedroom, and it has to have a window and closet and cannot be in a basement.

What type of office? One with a lot of customer traffic, or a place where someone works but has infrequent visitors (2-3 a week)?

  • Dentist or doctor
  • Therapist
  • Parole officer
  • Massage parlor
  • Psychic
  • Tax return preparer
  • Porn star auditioner
  • Modeling agency
  • ???

No. I say this as one who has worked in zoning administration in a past life. If the condo was in Houston and there’s no CC&Rs, different story.

Check your building by-laws. Most of the strata properties I work for as an assistant to a property manager prohibit using a residential condominium for business purposes, even if it’s no traffic/office type. So what **Dewey Finn **said.