The Legal Obligations of a Home Business

Many of us today work from home. A lot of us run our own businesses or work as freelancers from our houses. We set up home offices, we find work online, and we use a blog and social media profiles to attract customers, build loyal relationships and promote ourselves, our products or services and our businesses.

The internet means that it’s easier to startup at home is easier than it’s ever been before. People start e-commerce shops or sell their own products to the public on platforms like Etsy. They start consultancy businesses, work as caterers, photographers or designers. They bake, they write, they create products, they proofread and edit — hairdressers and beauticians open salons in their homes. Generally, they rush off and get started as soon as they’ve got an idea that they think can make work. Eager to start making money doing something that they love and keen to work flexibly from home. It can seem like a dream come true and many home businesses start without the advice or a law firm or researching any obligations they might have or precautions that they should take.


Some licences are obvious. If you ran a pub or bar, you’d know that you’d need a permit to serve alcohol. But, that’s not the only license that a small business might need. If you invite clients or customers into your home, perhaps if you’ve got a salon set up, and you play music, you might need an entertainments license. If you are using computer software for business purposes, you may also need to buy the licensed version, not the normal version available for the public.

Food Safety and Hygiene Certificates

If you cook for or serve food to the public out of your home, you will need certain certificates. Your kitchen will need to be inspected, you may need to take courses, and you’ll need food hygiene and health and safety certificates. What you need depends on the exact nature of your business and property, as well as where you are based so check with your local authorities before you get started.


Some insurance policies are a legal requirement that can’t be avoided. If you employ staff, even casually over busy periods, you need employers liability insurance. Others, aren’t a legal requirement, but certainly worth considering as they could protect you and your business in the future. Look into business contents insurance, tool insurance, public liability insurance and professional indemnity policies to make sure you’ve got all of the coverage that you need.

Tax Laws

One huge mistake many small home business owners and freelancers make is failing to realize that they need to declare their income. Even if you don’t earn enough to pay tax, you must register as self-employed, and declare both your income and tax deductible expenses.

Risk Assessments

If you employ staff, or welcome clients and customers into your home, even for short periods, you need to carry out risk assessments. Identify any risks that your business and property may pose, find ways to reduce risks. Review these assessments regularly.