Thinking about starting a business from home?
Whether or not you live in a mobile home park, there are certain legal requirements you might be subject to according to your city, state, and federal authorities. Renting a unit in a mobile home park adds an extra layer of red tape as you will need to check your lease agreement and might need to come to terms with your management or homeowner’s association.
In this article, we’ll look at starting a business from home at all angles.
Why start a business from your mobile home?
Most people who start a small business don’t have access to a lot of startup capital. That means that you want to keep your operation costs, particularly at the crucial beginning stages, as low as possible.
By working from home, you have already cut costs by avoiding renting an office space. You also don’t have daily transport costs. Mobile homes are even better because they are considered to be affordable housing and are often half the price of stick-built homes.
The average cost of the most common type of mobile home, a double-wide, is around $80,000 while the average lot rent plus mobile home rent is between $600-$1,000. The average cost for a stick-built home in the U.S. is close to $200,000, and apartment rental is $1,200. Add to that the fact that mobile homes generally have lower maintenance costs.
Be closer to your family
One of the best things about working from home is that you get to spend more time with your family. Today, too many people don’t get to spend enough time with their loved ones due to long hours in the office, the inevitable rush hour traffic, and the overtime.
This is an especially attractive option for those with young kids as you can be there for those crucial first few months and years. You will most likely also be working on your own terms and can mold your work time to fit in around important family occasions.
Work on your own terms
Maybe the best part about working from home is that it can actually boost your productivity. For many people, the office is not the optimal working conditions. We can get frustrated working for long hours in the same space, and it can quickly get bogged down.
It might sound like a cliche, but you also get morning-people and evening-people. We all don’t work at the same pace during the same times of the day. If you work from home, you can work during the times that you’re at your best. You can also pop out to your favorite coffee shop if you need some caffeine to get the creative juices flowing.
Most popular businesses to run from home
Whether your proficiency lies with plumbing or electricity, home repair can be an excellent way to work from home. In fact, in many first world countries, the growing gaps in society has led to a shortage of these essential hands-on professionals.
The great thing is that you can run your business in such a way that you don’t affect the other tenants or management of your property at all.
The internet is overrun with stories of people striking it big through e-commerce. You can either sell as a 3rd party on Amazon or start your own online store. This one is a mixed bag when it comes to running a business from a mobile home park.
The problem is that you will most likely have a lot of packages that need to be stored and moved. Whether or not you need external storage might well come down to how accommodating your management is and whether you can make the trips to the post office by yourself.
Accounting is a popular work-from-home choice because it is so easy to do without an office space. You don’t need to move or handle any merchandise, and your contact with clients can be minimal. This type of work could only cause problems in a mobile home park if you insist on receiving all your clients at your home.
Technically all of the above can be classified as “freelancing,” especially online selling. However, we are talking about disciplines such as content writing or programming. There is tremendous demand for these services online on sites like Upwork, Guru, and Freelancer.com. This model has almost zero overhead and no effect on the park you live in.
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Can I run a business from a mobile home park?
Simply put, whether or not you can run a business from your mobile home park is entirely up to the discretion of your park’s homeowners association, landlord or management. If there isn’t anything in the lease agreement about a business, you can assume that you are allowed to run one as long as it doesn’t lead to any of the issues we list below.
The smaller your footprint on the community is, the more likely you are to get permission to run your home business from a rental. If you sell online, for example, on Amazon, the chances are that you don’t have to do anything.
Potential problems your park may have with your business:
- Clients that need to come to your home – The chances of you receiving backing for this is extremely unlikely from your mobile home park or HOA as there will be all kinds of problems regarding who gets access to the park.
- The need to make or receive regular deliveries – Once again, apart from being noticeable, this will inevitably lead to more noise, hustle and bustle, blocked parking spots, and increased traffic. All things that neighbors could potentially take exception with.
- Any physical disturbances – The most obvious examples will be if you cause any kind of noise, light or smell pollution. This will be a big no-no and will undoubtedly result in the management asking you to stop your operations.
To avoid any awkward situations and protect yourself, you should approach your management and ask them even if there are no restrictions in the lease. It will help if you can show them how you won’t interfere with the other tenants’ lives or the running of the park.
Before you even approach your park management, you should first check the licenses and permits below. There is no chance that your management will approve of your business (unless they are ignorant of the law) if you do not meet the legal requirements. It could get both you and your management in hot water and lead to even more significant problems.
The last thing you want on top of closing your business and legal trouble is to be kicked out of your home without a deposit!
What licenses do I need?
If you hate making trips to your local city and state authorities, filling out application forms, and waiting for the results, we have bad news for you. Depending on your location and which kind of business you run, you may have to apply for multiple licenses or permits and register with multiple agencies or authorities.
Below, we have a list of the most common types of permits and licenses that are most likely to get you in trouble if you don’t have them. You should use this list to determine if you might have to apply for any licenses and then identify who you should approach to get them.
In short, here are the questions you need to ask yourself:
- What city or state authorities do I need to register with?
- Do I need any licenses or permits specific to my industry?
- Do I need to apply for any federal permits?
- What kind of business do I operate and will I have employees?
- Is my home business safe and healthy?
Sales tax permit
If you intend to sell any products from your home, you will most likely need to file for a tax permit with your state. This counts for both real-world and online sales. All states have their own revenue agencies that you need to register with. If you sell countrywide, you might also need to register for sales tax in the states you sell products. The easiest way is to check with the relevant states’ revenue agencies.
Different states may require different “occupational licenses” that are specific to certain careers or industries. For example, it could be that you need an occupational license to sell medical equipment in your state or to provide plumbing services. You can just Google your state name + “occupational license” to find the licenses for your state.
Certificates for business diversity
If your business promotes diversity or the upliftment of certain groups, you could apply for this type of certificate. State authorities hand out these licenses to give these kinds of small business a fighting chance against larger and more established firms. For example, you could qualify if you’re employing the disabled or people who are otherwise marginalized.
Health and safety permits
Your state might have multiple health and safety permits that you need to apply for and that you could get in hot water for not having. If you sell food, you will need to get some sort of license that proves you serve fresh food or that you properly preserve it. It could also include safety certificates for fire or chemical hazards if that is a risk for your business. Some states may arbitrarily require you to get one regardless, especially once you have employees.
Federal Employer ID (or FEIN)
A Federal Employer Identification Number is handy for a number of reasons, even if you don’t need one yet. For one, you can use it to fill out different business forms without using your social identity number. You only need a FEIN for certain types of businesses (like an LLC) or if you start hiring employees. However, it might be worth it to get one anyway.
As if there aren’t enough permits to deal with already, different states or cities also “zone” areas for certain business practices. You should check with your local authorities whether the location you stay is zoned for or restricts the type of business you want to practice. It may be called something like a “home-occupational permit.”
Many residential areas don’t allow businesses. The main reasons are that businesses usually come with commercial signs, increased traffic, and could handle items that are dangerous or cause inconvenience. If you don’t come with any of this baggage, you could apply for a waiver of the permit.
Fictitious business name or DBA (Doing Business As)
It may be considered fraud if you accept payments and do business under a name that is not registered or before giving your local authorities notice. So, if you want to operate under a name different than your own legal name, you will need to apply for a Fictitious Business Name/DBA/Assumed Name.
A Fictitious Business Name allows you to do most of the basic things a real business does under a name chosen by you like accept payments, advertise, and present yourself as said business.
Federal licenses and permits
The Federal government also regulates a number of industries across the U.S. You can check this list here for all the sectors that need a federal license or permit as well as the relevant authority that they need to apply with.
For example, if you have anything to do with Agriculture, you will need to obtain a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you have anything to do with nuclear energy (probably not), you need to obtain a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
If you manage to convince your mobile home park somehow to allow you to erect a business sign (if you live in a park), you might still need to get permission from your local authorities. They will determine how many signs you can put up as well as the type and the size.
Make the most of starting a business from home
Starting a business from home can be an extremely rewarding and fulfilling way to live. However, to stop your dream career from turning into a nightmare, you should always do your due diligence and make sure you are on the right side of the law, your lease agreement, and your neighbor’s patience. We hope that this article helps you do just that!