Home Business Zoning Laws NYC

by | Last updated Jul 12, 2020 | Apartment Renovations, Houses, NYC Zoning, Renovations

Is it legal to run a business from an apartment in NYC?

You can run certain types of businesses from an apartment in NYC. There are Home Business Zoning Laws in NYC that restrict the types of business and size, but it is allowed. For Home Occupation NYC Zoning requires the home business to be less than 500 square feet or 25% of the home whichever is less. There are additional use and operational requirements.

The NYC Zoning Resolution refers to having a Home Office or Home Businesses operated form a house or apartment as “Home Occupations”. The code details certain restrictions that we will list and summarize below for operation a Home Business.


Home Occupation NYC Zoning Regulations

  • Home Occupation Definition
  • Size of Home Office
  • Allowed Home Occupations
  • Prohibited Businesses
  • General Restrictions for Home Based Business


Home Occupation Definition

According to the NYC Zoning Resolution the following criteria must be met in order to run a home based business or have a home office.

  • The home must be primarily used as a home. The Business aspect “is clearly incidental to or secondary to the residential use.”
  • The business must be owned and operated by the person living in the residence.
  • Only 1 person not residing in the home may be employed to work there.
  • The home office or area of operating the home business occupies no more than 25% of the residence up to a maximum of 500 square feet.

NYC Home Office Size Requirements

It is very important to understand that you cannot have a home office over 500 square feet in NYC and over 25% of the total floor area of the home. You must be under both requirements.


Home Businesses allowed in NYC

The Zoning Code lists a few examples for allowed home businesses but this list is not meant to limit the possibility of other allowed business types.

  • Fine Arts Studios
  • Professional Offices
  • Teaching (no more than 4 students at a time)
  • Musical Instrument Instruction (no more than 1 student at a time)


Prohibited Businesses for Home Occupation

The New York City Zoning Code prohibits certain types of home businesses. The following businesses are not allowed to be operated from as a home occupation or home office.

  • advertising or public relations agencies
  • barber shops
  • beauty parlors
  • stables or kennels
  • depilatory, electrolysis or similar offices
  • interior decorators’ offices or workshops
  • ophthalmic dispensing
  • pharmacy
  • real estate or insurance offices
  • stockbrokers’ offices
  • veterinary medicine.

If you are uncertain if your home business can run out of your home office I recommend you speak with a professional or go to the Department Of Buildings Homeowners Night for help.


General Restrictions for Home Based Businesses in NYC

There are a few operational issues not allowed for a home based business in NYC. Here is a list of things you cannot do in your home office:

  • You cannot sell anything produced outside of the premises.
  • No exterior signs visible from the outside
  • No display of goods visible from the outside
  • You cannot have products that are stored outside of the building or accessory space to the building.
  • In R1 Zoning or R2 Zoning Districts you cannot display a nameplate or sign except in connection with a “profession.”
  • You cannot make exterior renovations not normal for residential purposes, or change the character of a residential area for your home business.
  • You cannot produce: ” offensive noise, vibration, smoke, dust or other particulate matter, odorous matter, heat, humidity, glare, or other objectionable effects.”


Adding an Apartment Home Office in NYC

The photo below is of a home office we designed in an apartment in NYC. This apartment is a Chelsea Loft where the client wanted to add a home office while re configuring and renovating the apartment. This home office design has black metal and glass doors for transparency and openness, with a bright red accent wall to add a pop of color to an otherwise white apartment.

Apartment Home Office NYC

Apartment Home Office NYC


Renovating for a Home Office in NYC

If you are going to renovate for a home office in NYC you will need to file for permits. An alteration to a house or apartment for a home office is normally filed by an architect such as myself as an Alteration Type 2.


Thank You for reading our post on Height Factor Zoning.

If you have questions or comments please feel free to leave them below. If you would like to speak with an architect about a specific project you can contact us directly.


Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.