Are you an enterprising entrepreneur? We know many people are, and want to find a way to turn their homes into offices. It’s good to know, then, that you can actually turn your HDB into an office. We’ve put a handy guide together to help you through this process.
What are the requirements?
If you want to run an office out of your home, you have to apply to the authorities under the Home Office Scheme.
Home Office Scheme allows homeowners, tenants or authorised occupants to set up small scale office in their homes as long as they satisfy specific government guidelines. Unlike Home-based small scale business, anyone who wishes to set up a home office has to register with URA (for private residential) or HDB (for HDB dwellers) via the LicenceOne portal.
Applicants must satisfy the following terms and conditions:
Person conducting business
- Applicant must be 18 years old and above.
- Prior written consent of the owner of the relevant premises has been obtained for the lodgement of the registration form if the applicant is not the owner of the premise.
- The number of non-residents (including employees, partners and directors) engaged in the business at the Home Office unit is limited to a maximum of 2.
Business registration and licensing
Your business must be registered with ACRA unless it is exempted under the Business Registration Act. Business must be registered with ACRA as one of these business structures; Sole-proprietorship, Partnership, Limited Liability Partnership or Company (Private Limited).
The business must comply with the regulations of other government authorities and relevant licences must be obtained before the commencement of business. To search for the licences that may be required for the business, the applicant can go to LicenceOne.
Condition of the flat use
The premise is used primarily for residential purposes with part or parts of the premises being used as an office. The business activities shall be confined wholly within the premises. There is no display of physical business signage outside the residential premise. The change in the use of the relevant premise does not result in any increase in the floor area of the building.
No part of the relevant premise comprises works that are unauthorised under the Planning Act. Any approval required from any other relevant authority for the change in the use of the relevant premises has been obtained prior to making the change in the use of the relevant premises. The use of the relevant premise as a Home Office shall be reverted back to residential use when the Home Office use ceases or if the Home Office permit is revoked due to a breach of conditions or guidelines.
Should not generate noise, smoke, odour, chemical/ liquid waste, or dust, which could become a nuisance to your neighbours. Must not sell/ buy any physical goods in or around the flat. Business must not be illegal, unlawful, or immoral (e.g. gambling or pornography-related activities). Must not introduce or cause extraneous human or vehicular traffic to the surroundings or neighbourhood. The business owner cannot conduct any form of solicitation of business that could cause annoyance or disturbance to the residents or public (e.g. distribution of brochures, door-to-door visitations)
The business activity must not pose any danger to human lives or damage to properties. Consumption of electricity and structural load must not exceed the normal (residential) load. Storage and use of dangerous chemicals and hazardous substances are strictly prohibited.
In accordance with the fire safety requirements set by the Fire Safety and Shelter Department (FSSD), the following must be installed in the office area:
- A 2kg ABC Dry Chemical Powder fire extinguisher (available at DIY shops)
- A single-station smoke detector (battery operated, no wiring needed; available at DIY shops)
What the difference between a Home Office and Home-based business?
You might be wondering what the difference is between a home office and a home-based business.
Home-based small scale businesses are defined as the business carried within residential premises with limited activities. The activities should not affect the use of the residential unit and not cause any inconvenience and disturbance to the neighbours or residents of the neighbourhood.
To make things easier for you, we have a quick comparison table for you:
|Home-based small scale business||Home office scheme|
|Licensing||not required||Required licensing with HDB (for HDB flats) or URA (for private residences) via LicenseOne|
|Employee||Cannot hire anyone outside the household||Max. 2 including director/partner|
|Business registration||not required||Have to register the business with ACRA|
|Type of business||
Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge needed for you to set up your own home office and apply for the right licenses, it’s time to go forth and start your very own home office!