Whether you live in a council provided accommodation or one rented through a housing association, there are certain rules to be followed while living in a community-based property. While the main aim of this article is to determine whether or not someone can run a business from their council and if they do, what are the potential areas of concern. Additionally, we will also discuss relevant situations such as council visits to one’s property as well as the type of tenancy that may impact your desire to run a business from home.
Can You Run A Business From A Council House?
Yes, you can run a business from a council house as long as you have permission in writing from your local council office or housing association. The type of tenancy contract that you are under may also play a key role in attaining council permission for running a home-based business.
Depending on the nature of your business and the potential need for any alterations to your property, you may also need to seek approval of the Planning Permission as well as to attain separate insurance.
Council authorities may be concerned about advertisements placed outside your home, delivery trucks arriving at the property, customers visiting at different times of the day, noise and disruption that may offend your neighbours or even possible damage to property. This is the reason why approval from them in writing is essential before starting a business from your council house.
While seeking permission from council authorities, you will be required to provide information regarding the following areas of concern:
- Complete details of the business, its nature and your plan of operations
- Details of any structural changes planned on the property
- Details of any outbuildings to be needed for the said business
- Details of any advertisements planned to be placed on the property
- Mentions of any commercial vehicles that are to be used
- Hours of operation of the business expected noise level and if there is a potential inconvenience expected towards your neighbours
If you need to make structural changes to your property, you will also need approval from Planning Permission before you start any construction work on the property.
You will also need business insurance as home insurance will not cover business assets such as computers, stocks or customers visiting your premises.
You must keep in mind that while running a business from home, you will be charged business rates on the portion of the property that is being used for the purpose; while council tax will apply to the rest of the house. As a result of running a business from home, you may experience a rise in council tax rates and a reduction in your benefits (if you claim any).
However, if your tenancy agreement prohibits any business/trade/commercial activities on council premises, you will not be able to do so. Similarly, if the council is not satisfied with the outcome of you running a business from home, they may refuse your application.
Can Council Inspect My House?
Yes, council authorities have a duty to visit houses; both privately rented ones and especially council housing premises. Such visits are scheduled in advance and residents are informed ahead of the visit to expect a visit by the council authorities at a specified date and time. Therefore, it is advisable to make sure that if you do not have permission from the council, you do not make alterations to your home, including starting a business.
The nature and purpose of this visit may vary. For instance, sometimes visits by council authorities are an informal assessment before a formal inspection is carried out for home improvement or extension work to be carried out.
The reasons for a council visit may include any other following:
- Inspection or assessment prior to home improvement/restructuring/modification/extension tasks is planned.
- Inspection or follow up on complaints of pest control.
- Inspection or assessment in response to complaints by the tenant(s).
- Inspection or assessment in response to complaints by the neighbours against the tenant(s).
- Inspection to check multiple occupancy status (if the resident claims to be a single occupant for the property).
There are times when the reason for council authorities visiting a council house is in response to a complaint filed by the resident(s) or their neighbours.
When residents have complaints about their living conditions, or if the property that they are living in (whether it is privately rented or is part of social housing) is not fit for inhabitation, they may request the local council authorities to visit the premises especially if the authorities are expected to take any action int his regard. Sometimes when landlords are uncooperative about home improvements (those that may harm the health of tenants or cause external damage), they may request council authorities to visit their house for inspection.
What Are The Different Types Of Tenancies For Council Housing?
A tenancy agreement serves as a legal agreement bound by terms and conditions that the undersigning parties agree to while a living space is rented out. Tenancy agreements for council housing may be classified as below:
- Introductory Tenancy: This is considered to be a 12 month trial period for tenants during which their rights to exchange property or make modifications to it are limited. Unless the tenant is evicted or the agreement extended for another 6 months, these will automatically convert to secure or flexible agreements once the trial period is over.
- Secure Tenancy: This form of tenancy secures your occupancy in the council house for life; unless you break any tenancy rules stated in the agreement. In this case, you may sub-let rooms in the property but not the entire premises. You may also transfer the tenancy to someone else, exchange the premises or even apply to purchase the property.
- Flexible Tenancy: This type of tenancy is usually for a fixed term of 2 to 5 years; at the end of which the council may decide to offer you a renewed contract on similar terms, offer a secure tenancy or not renew at any terms at all. You continue to enjoy all the privileges of a secure tenant under such a contract; however, it remains time-bound.
- Joint Tenancy: This is a contract that comes into place after a secure or flexible tenancy as a result of the addition of a spouse/partner/joint tenant to your home. Under this contract, you and the joint tenant both become liable for rent payments and become eligible for all the privileges under secure tenancy jointly.
Irrespective of the type of tenancy agreement that you may have for your council house, you will still need to seek their approval prior to starting a business from home.
Can Council Houses Be Bought?
Yes, council houses can be bought under the Right to Buy by local council tenants scheme but there are certain basic conditions to be met. These include the following:
- The council house is the applicant’s main home
- The property is self-contained
- The applicant is a secure tenant
- The applicant has had a public sector landlord for at least five years
There is also an option of buying your council house under a joint application. In this case, it is essential for the applicant to either file their council house application with someone as their joint owner and be willing to share their responsibilities as a house owner or have up to three family members (who have lived with them for at least 12 months) willing to share ownership rights.
Under “Preserved Right To Buy” you can purchase a council house that you lived in but the council sold it to a housing association landlord.
In case, you are a housing association tenant, you can apply for the purchase of your council house by filling out the Right to Acquire Application Form To be eligible, your must spend at least three years as a council house tenant and fulfil all the eligibility criteria that apply to local council tenants. However, you should not apply under the Right To Buy or Preserved Right To Buy schemes.
Voluntary Right To Buy allows you to purchase a council house that you may not have lived in.
From the above discussion, one may come to the conclusion that starting a business from home requires permission not only from council authorities but also from planning permission if you are to make alterations to the property. The council may have certain concerns if your business is expected to cause noise and disruption with traffic of vehicles as well as customers. To make sure that you have all approvals in place ahead of time, it is advisable to contact your local council while you plan to start a home-based business.
FAQs: Can You Run A Business From A Council House?
Does running a business from home affect council tax?
Yes, running a business from home affects council tax. You will be required to pay business rates for the portion of the house being used for business purposes while council tax will apply to the remainder of the house.
Can you run a business from a rented house?
Yes, you can run a business from a rented house as long as you have permission in writing from your mortgage lender or council authorities and from planning permission in case you intend to make structural changes to the property.
Is it legal to run a business from a residential property in the UK?
Yes, it is legal to run a business from a residential property as long as you have permission from your mortgage lender or council authorities and from planning permission in case you intend to make structural changes to the property.
Can I work from home in a rented property in the UK?
Yes, you can work from home in a rented property in the UK. In fact, since the onset of the covid-19 pandemic, this has become the norm. As long as the nature of your work does not cause environmental disruption or extraordinary traffic of vehicles and customers to the neighbourhood and you are primarily working through a home office on a computer, you will not need to seek any permission as well.
What can I sell from home in the UK?
As long as you have permission from your council authorities to run a business from home, you can sell anything from clothes, baked items, electronics or even reused items such as toys, furniture, books etc.