The internet and smart phone technology has revolutionised our society, with changes happening quickly that have affected both our social and work lives. Many people now are self-employed, with much of that business being conducted from their own homes. For those who live in traditional detached housing, this is not such a problem, but how does it affect people in strata living situations?
A Home Business in Your Apartment?
There is no easy answer to this question. The operation of a home-based business is a state and local government matter and for this reason, the requirements differ widely throughout Australia. There will be state legislation and local government by-laws that regulate these businesses, regardless of whether the business is located in a house or in a group lot situation.
WA Strata Management is a company providing management services to a wide range of strata councils. Just as an exercise, we searched the WA Small Business Development Corporation website, nominated a type of home business and found that in the two local government areas we searched, home occupation approvals must be sought from the relevant local council.
Check All Your Facts Before Starting
Without actually contacting those councils, the web site made it clear that only the owners of a premises can operate a business from there, and along with other restrictions, this business must not involve a retail operation, display or hire of goods. There are also various OH&S Codes of Practice that may need to be addressed, and this was just the start of the search.
Know the Rules for Your Particular Situation
It would be safe to say, therefore, that every situation needs to be looked at individually. A freelance writer or computer programmer, for example, working in isolation in their apartments and submitting work via the internet would not be affecting anyone else in the building by their work activities.
A field sales manager, however, who has a team of say ten sales people under their direction and holds regular team meetings in their apartment could certainly cause problems with the neighbours, especially if these meetings were held at night. The mass influx of extra people would cause parking and noise issues, and it would not be long before this came to the attention of the Council.
A Brave New World – Challenges of the Future
Home businesses are proliferating and many successful business owners started their enterprises in their bedrooms, so it is hard to argue against the practice in general. This will be an ongoing issue into the future, much the same as those who use Airbnb to rent out their apartments to strangers when they go on holidays.
These, and others not yet evident, are the challenges confronting the strata living industry as more and more people choose this type of living. The future is changing and it may mean an end to set and forget Council by-laws, and many more vigorous exchanges of opinion in Council meetings.