Home Business Rules

See also: Illegal Businesses

What Is It?

A black man with long hair looking up home business rules on a laptop.You’re allowed to run a business out of your home in Seattle as long as it doesn’t interfere with other residents in the neighborhood. The home occupation rules in our Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) contain limits designed to minimize the impact your commercial activity has on your residential neighborhood.

What It Isn’t

This code section does not cover:

  • Illegal businesses in commercial properties
  • Bed and breakfasts
  • Marijuana businesses

Rules to Follow

Our ordinance requires that you:

  • Live in the unit where you operate your home business
  • Limit the number of your employees to two, in addition to you
  • Limit deliveries to your business to one a day on weekdays
  • Use only small signs to identify your business from the outside to discourage drop-in traffic

In addition, your business cannot produce noise, odors, or other emissions that can be detected from your property line. You cannot change the character of the dwelling from residential to commercial. Our rules are slightly different for home-based child care programs. Bed and breakfasts are subject to different rules.

Read the Code


If you violate the home occupation standards you could be charged penalties of $150 to $500 a day. Your fines can accumulate if you do not correct the violation in a timely way. We will also charge for inspections.