The COVID pandemic radically changed the way companies and government agencies performed their daily activities. As of 2022, many Florida businesses continue to operate at home. Is it legal to run a business out of residential property in Florida? Read on to find out.
Is it Legal to Run a Business Out of Your Home in Florida? – The Fundamentals
Determining whether a Florida business can operate out of a residential property depends on several factors. The first aspect is the different levels of regulations involved in licensing businesses.
If you want to own a home business, you must comply with regulations at the federal, state, and local levels. In this context, the term “local” refers to city and county regulations.
Local governments are often responsible for most regulatory requirements that affect home businesses, especially zoning ordinances, general business licenses, and local tax licenses. While regulations vary across the state, many laws at the city and county levels tend to restrict home businesses.
For example, Orlando city regulations prohibit certain businesses to operate from residential properties. Additionally, permitted home occupations must apply for occupation licenses by submitting detailed information about the premises, including the property’s physical space.
Running a business out of a home located in a condo association, cooperative, or homeowners association can be even more complex, as these situations involved further regulations exclusively applied to them.
Running a Business Out of Home in Florida – As Provided by Law
Effective on July 1, 2021, a new law introduced several provisions that protect home-based businesses and curb several regulations employed by local governments to restrict them.
As provided by Florida Statutes §559.955 (1), “local governments may not enact or enforce any ordinance, regulation, or policy or take any action to license or otherwise regulate a home-based business in violation of this section.”
The following provision specifies that “a home-based business that operates from a residential property as provided in subsection (3):
- May operate in an area zoned for residential use
- May not be prohibited, restricted, regulated, or licensed in a manner that is different from other businesses in a local government’s jurisdiction, except as otherwise provided in this section
- Is only subject to applicable business taxes under chapter 205 in the county and municipality in which the home-based business is located”
Florida Statutes §559.955 (3) establishes an extensive list of requirements that companies operating out of a residential property must meet to be considered “home businesses.”
For example, Florida Statutes §559.955 (3) (a) specifies that “the employees of the business who work at the residential dwelling must also reside in the residential dwelling, except that up to a total of two employees or independent contractors who do not reside at the residential dwelling may work at the business.”
Additionally, “the business may have additional remote employees that do not work at the residential dwelling.”
Florida Statutes §559.955 (3)(c) adds that “as viewed from the street, the use of the residential property is consistent with the uses of the residential areas that surround the property.”
Hence, any “external modifications made to a residential dwelling to accommodate a home-based business must conform to the residential character and architectural aesthetics of the neighborhood.”