Starting your own work-from-home business may feel simpler and easier than investing in a storefront, buying technology and filling a space with inventory, but it's important to know if you're allowed to before you go ahead and do it, or else you could be in serious legal trouble.

Know your codes

There are some towns and cities where certain types of business are not legally permitted to operate in an at-home setting. These professions include landscaping, carpet cleaning, kennels, barber shops, funeral homes, auto repair and swimming pool supply and maintenance just to name a few. Your local government office should have a website or documents on file for public review that will detail what you can and cannot do from the comfort of your own home, as well as the repercussions for doing it anyway.

The reason for the disallowances are multiple. Ranging from safety and health precautions to excessive noise and public disruption, legislators have taken a number of factors into account in terms of determining what will happen at your house.

"Given the economy and technology, there's no reason not to allow people to have a small business in their home," said Ann Rainey, an alderman for the town of Evanston, just outside of Chicago. However, the councilwoman pointed out in her interview with Evanston Now that a home was primarily a dwelling and not all industry was appropriate to conduct therein.

Is Rainey Right

For those leasing or renting their homes, landlords may agree with the councilwoman in saying that the home is no place for business. Check your lease agreement and zoning requirements to see if you're banned from conducting your desired line of work at your house, even if you feel you have enough room in the front yard or your neighbors won't care about the noise or mess.

Other types of businesses may be allowed but would require special permits, like child care or large-scale pet-sitting operations. There are places where certain regions of private property, namely the front, side or publicly visible portions of a yard, are not to be used to conduct business unless permitting is acquired. If a step in the process is missed, a home-based business could be looking at fines and legal proceedings, so get some financial advice before moving forward.