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Having my own business in an RS apartment...allowed?

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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Having my own business in an RS apartment...allowed?

Postby citynative » Sun Jul 12, 2015 9:19 pm

Im a rent-stabilized tenant and have my own small business. Basically an LLC that is connected to my apartment/home address. I just want to make sure Im not breaking any RS laws by doing this and risk being evicted. Can anyone shed any light what the rules are on having a home business and living in an RS apt?
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Re: Having my own business in an RS apartment...allowed?

Postby TenantNet » Sun Jul 12, 2015 10:44 pm

I don't know what you mean by "LLC that is connected to my apartment/home address."

As far as we know there is no law that prohibits residents from conducting business in their own apartments, including rent stab units. That's in NYC. I believe Los Angeles does have such a law.

However, there are things to consider...

Most people I know who run businesses out of their apartments usually have a computer and other equipment like printers, phones and so on. It's often a one-person shop. They do not become a nusiance for the LL or for neighbors.

1. You need to be careful about creating "waste" in the sense that you aren't generating refuse above and beyond what one might generate from simply residing there.

2. Whatever you do, you should not be having clients come in on a regular basis. There can be occasional exceptions, but a residence is not a storefront.

3. You should not have employees working there. Again, you might get away with 1 or 2 employeees, but even that might get a LL upset.

4. No signs, no extra noise, no extra use of water, electricity, etc.

5. I would not use the unit for manufacturing or storage, or for phone banking.

6. The unit must still be your primary residence.

Above all, use common sense. It's a residence. While there may not be any rules per se, I would check my lease just to make sure what is allowed, and just avoid having the LL or neighbors complain. Fly under the radar.
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Re: Having my own business in an RS apartment...allowed?

Postby TJHillgardner » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:27 pm

Flying under the radar is good advice. But also check your lease. Many leases contain a provision wherein you covenant to use the apartment for residential purposes only. It may be a substantial obligation of your tenancy that you NOT run a business out of your home. Depending on the nature of your business, you may be able to fly under the radar even if your lease does prohibit use of your apartment for business purposes. The good news is that should the landlord ever catch on he would still be required to give you an opportunity to cure and you always could protect your apartment merely by discontinuing operation of your business from your apartment. Finally, merely listing the address of your apartment as the address for service of process on your LLC by the Secretary of State does not prove you are doing business at your address and you need not list the address of your principal place of business in your articles of organization beyond setting forth the county in which your principal place of business shall be located.
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Re: Having my own business in an RS apartment...allowed?

Postby TenantNet » Thu Jul 16, 2015 3:48 pm

TJ, I think you're splitting hairs there. Such a lease provision - even if it exists - might be unenforceable. In most courts it would depend on the particulars. As I explained above, many at-home businesses are just a computer, printer and a telephone. I can't cite particular cases, but in 30 years dealing with tenant issues in court, I've never seen anyone kicked out for talking on a telephone or typing on a keyboard.

Other businesses might depend on inventory, employees, traffic in and out of the unit, generation of waste and so on .... those activities might give landlords legitimate grounds to object.

As you point out, even a business that creates a disturbance can be cured in the context of a L&T case in Housing Court.

You have a point about listing service of process with the DOS, but as you point out, that proves nothing in this context. If one is worried, they can always change that to have process served on the DOS itself.
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Re: Having my own business in an RS apartment...allowed?

Postby citynative » Thu Jul 16, 2015 6:11 pm

Thanks all for the smart responses. My lease is a standard RS lease and doesnt have any specific info on that, so I think Im good. Thanks again!
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Re: Having my own business in an RS apartment...allowed?

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Fri Jul 17, 2015 10:03 am

From the standpoint of any tenant, RS or not: In practice, it really comes down to what sort of home business you're running. Basically, if your business is something that would create a burden on your fellow tenants, or the staff of the building (noise, lots of people coming and going, lots of incoming/outgoing shipments, etc. etc.), then there could be an issue. If you're an author who writes from home, no issue at all.

For an RS tenant, there's the additional issue of "does this business somehow give my LL an opening to evict me, assuming my rent is materially below market." So long as the apartment really is your primary residence, then you should be fine.
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