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Am I legally able to operate a franchise from home?
Your franchise agreement may permit you to operate your franchise business from home. In some cases, the franchisor will want to approve the premises from which you operate your franchise business. There are a number of advantages to working from home - you won’t have to pay for premises and you can claim a proportion of your running costs as tax deductible. However, a key consideration is whether planning permission will be required for such an enterprise. There is no clear-cut answer, as it will depend on the size and location of your property and the particular business activity. The key test is whether your home remains mainly residential in character and use, or becomes business premises. Planning permission is required if the change to your home constitutes ‘development’ under section 55 Town and Country Planning Act 1990. ‘Development’ means the carrying out of building operations (such as structural alterations or additions, but not those to the interior or those which do not materially affect the external appearance of the property) or the making of any material change in the use of the property. If your home ceases to be used mainly as a place to live, and the business involves activities that are unusual in a residential area, then planning permission is likely to be required. An informal check can be made with the local council as to whether planning permission is required, or for a fee a formal decision can be applied for in the form of a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development. This would establish, if appropriate, conclusively that the use of the property for running a business would not require planning permission and would provide protection against any enforcement action.
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