Toolkit Topic

What Should Local Regulations on Home-Based Businesses Look Like?

This is an item in our Local Government Toolkit

One of the primary ways you can help protect the health and safety of residents is to ensure your city or county does not prevent residents from earning a living for themselves and, therefore, feeding, clothing, and paying for the housing and healthcare of their families.

One way you can do this is to allow for residents to operate businesses from their home—and to consider whether or not the current city or county ordinance related to home-based businesses is outdated or too restrictive.

Instead of making a list of every conceivable home-based business and considering whether or not it should be allowed, we recommend a simpler, principles-based approach. We recommend the following principles when considering home-based business regulations in your area:

  1. Impact: If the impact of the home-based business would have approximately the same impact on a neighborhood as any other residence, then it should be allowed.
  2. Personal Freedom: Residents should have the right to do activity on their property that is peaceful and brings no harm to others—especially when that activity provides for their family.
  3. Fees: While a small fee to get a license printed might be reasonable, is it necessary to require a home-based business to pay the city annual fees on top of the sales and property taxes they are required to pay?
  4. Burden: Regulations that are not related to the health and safety of residents can result in an undue burden. Regulations such as public notice requirements, mailed letters to neighbors, and hearings are unnecessary if the ordinance itself is fair and reasonable.

Are you a local elected official and interested in chatting with us more about this topic? Please reach out to us at—we’d love to chat!


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