The Lifestyle Guide 2018

One of the most commonly asked questions in strata is “Can I run a business from home?” It’s a puzzle because you have all the usual council and planning issues plus strata laws and the by-laws of the scheme to think about. I was reminded of this by a recent post to my Flat Chat website about a family that had moved into a four-home townhouse complex and started up an ethnic food preparation and delivery service. With vehicles coming and going all day and night, not to mention cooking smells, this had a negative impact on neighbours, who saw fit to try and get the business shut down. But that’s an extreme case. NSW strata law doesn’t forbid you from running a business from your home. The only reference you will find is in the model by- laws that say you must notify the strata committee if you plan to change the use of your property (including putting it up for short-term holiday rentals). That said, the model by-laws are subject to change at an AGM, so this is hardly watertight. However, as with the food prep and delivery service above, there may be pretty strict local council rules that come into play. But the key to it all is the impact on your neighbours. If tapping away on your keyboard into the wee small hours as you trade Bitcoin and pork bellies on the Internet doesn’t disturb them, then you will be left alone. But what about if you have a massage table set up in your spare room and a constant stream of clients? Or if every other weekend there’s a different set of tourists traipsing through the hallways, bashing the walls with their luggage, on their way to your Airbnb? The critical point is whether or not your business bothers your neighbours. Ultimately, if it doesn’t, who cares? If it does, however, then they have a range of options – like charging you for additional insurance costs to breaches of local council planning regulations – that could put you out of business before you’ve fried your first falafel. Jimmy Thomson Columnist for the Australian Financial Review in Strata Minding Your Own Business LIFESTYLE GUIDE 56