Grand Junction, CO asked in Business Law for Colorado

Q: Is it legal to set up a home business in a camper that is in a driveway of a rented lot that is not your residence?

I live in a mobile home park and my neighbor has allowed her daughter who lives in a different town to set up a camper in their driveway of a rented lot to prepare taxes for people. I'm fairly certain that she does not have a home business licence for this as it is not her residence. Is this legal?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Kevin Michael Strait
Kevin Michael Strait
  • Fort Collins, CO
  • Licensed in Colorado

A: Colorado allows home-based businesses, but each county sets rules on the permitting process. Without knowing which county or which set of home business rules to apply, it is hard to say if a camper in a driveway is an unacceptable way to offer tax preparation services.

As a general "what if" answer, I can offer an analysis of the rules for Denver, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins.

In Denver, one factor is the kind of land zoning applied to that location. Some areas are controlled by Denver Zoning Code and others are simply under old county code from the 1950's. The zoning rules influence the list of businesses allowed and not allowed. For example, in Zoning Dist. Reg. § 59-89(1)(i), a home business that is an "office" is allowed if "goods, wares or merchandise are not commercially created, displayed, exchanged, stored or sold." Basically it allows office-environment professions that do not sell merchandise. In all cases, Denver requires a Zoning Permit for the business, and that permit would be in the "Office - Non-medical and Non-dental" category. That category specifically allows home office occupations for "accountants."

In Colorado Springs, home occupation permits are controlled by City Code of Colorado Springs, Article 7, Chapter 5, Part 1503. Home businesses are not allowed for some occupations (like car repair, autobody painting, and medical marijuana sales) but are allowed for tax preparation. The code regulates the traffic caused by visitors, the kinds of signs or advertisements that can be placed at a residence, and the nuisance caused to neighbors. Only the residents of the home can run the home-based business in Colorado Springs, and the home must be used as a "dwelling." If all the conditions of § 1503 are met, the business may be an acceptable occupation under the law.

In Fort Collins, each home business must operate under a permit. The business cannot use more than 50% of the home, cannot make use of multiple employees, and cannot cause a nuisance to the neighborhood. Other restrictions apply as well, such as the requirement that the business be "secondary" to the use of the dwelling as a residential home. Look at the City of Fort Collins Land Use Code, Article 3, Division 3.8.3 for all the rules on home businesses. Fort Collins has an online complaint system available at (click on Zoning --> Home Businesses).

Without knowing the county, this kind of general explanation is your best guidance.

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