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Working from home has some very obvious advantages – dramatically reducing your commute, meaning you can, if you so wish, work in your pyjamas and (in a not unrelated benefit) take a quick power nap if the feeling arises. However, for those who make a house into a home, there are certain legal requirements that must be organised before setting up shop – from a single laptop, to a recording studio equipped with the latest technology all those who work from home must comply with certain standards.

Valuation Office Agency

Working from home may mean you are expected to pay business rates (a little like council tax for business owners.) To find out if you are required to pay as well as the cost a member of the Valuation Office Agency will come and visit your premises to do a quick analysis. The sorts of things they are looking for are the extent of work conducted from home, the number of rooms as well as any modifications made to the property for business use.

As a very general rule – business rates are around half of the rental value. However, there are plenty of factors that are considered when deciding upon business rates and it could also lead to a reduction in council tax. Having a room that is solely dedicated to business use could prove problematic when selling your property, as you could well be liable for capital gains tax. Far better is to stop this problem at the outset and inform your VOA inspector that the room is used for both work and play, making any capital gains tax null and void.

Health and Safety laws

Healthy and Safety is a phrase that is probably a little loosely thrown away. Really, in modern society, everything and anything can be subject to health and safety regulations. However, whilst often common sense should prevail when it comes to home businesses health and safety is a necessity thanks to the introduction of the Health and Safety Law in 1974. This law unfortunately means that if a houseguest was to trip over or damage themselves on a work related item you could be liable for damages.

If your company has less than five employees (which unless your home is a palatial architectural triumph) assumedly is the case you don’t need to invest in a formal document. Rather take some time out of your day to inspect and record:
•Any hazards
•Who could possibly be harmed and how
•Asses the risks and make a decided effort to remove or reduce them

This process should be continually updated to ensure any changes in office space or interior design is accounted for in your health and safety procedure.

A way of avoiding any potential damages could well be lock away any work related equipment or fixtures in a separate, dedicated space. This may also help enhance your home and work balance (which is an incredibly delicate balancing act as a freelancer) as well as reduce any risk to your equipment (particularly true if you are one of the growing number of mumtrepreuners contributing massively to our economy).

Insurance

Any small business employing more than one member of staff is legally required to have employers’ liability insurance. This protects your company against any injury an employee may suffer whilst working. The other insurance is optional, but one at Sterling Finance, we still believe to be of particular importance. Professional indemnity insurance protects your business against any claims made as a result of advice given, claims that can easily break your brand, reputation and bottom line.

It is also important to amend your motor insurance to clarify you will also be using the car for business travel.

Tenancy Agreements

Certain mortgage agreements and loan contracts may stipulate you cannot work from home. Worst case scenario infringement of these agreements could result in eviction so it is important tenants pore over their leasing document to ensure they are compliant and permitted to do their work from home.