Many associations’ governing documents include clauses that prohibit commercial business activities from being conducted in a resident’s unit. Some include a blanket stipulation banning commercial activity altogether, while others make a distinction between permissible and impermissible activities. While it makes sense for associations to want to regulate and restrict businesses from operating within their communities, HOAs and condominium associations should take a prudent approach that is guided by reason.
When considering how to regulate and enforce restrictions against commercial activities, associations should focus on the impact that particular activities have on the community and the quality of life of those who make it their home. Today’s technology allows for a great deal of work to be done from home with no disruptions whatsoever to the community at large. Rather than attempting to ban all commercial activities in a community, the better option is to specifically delineate in the governing documents the types of activities that are not allowed.
Some of the activities that communities wish to ban are those that entail significant vehicular traffic, including from clients as well as vendors and delivery vehicles. The stockpiling of chemicals or other flammable/hazardous materials in residences and garages is also a concern, as is the number of commercial vehicles being parked in the driveways and parking areas in front of homes.
Rather than attempting to impose a blanket restriction on all commercial activities, which is impossible to enforce given that many people are able to work very effectively and discretely from their home offices, associations should consult with highly experienced and qualified community association attorneys to develop and implement reasonable restrictions that make sense and can be effectively enforced.