Q: I run a mail order business out of my apartment. But my landlord is concerned that my business will cause his real estate taxes to change from residential to commercial, which are higher.
A: We've never seen a situation in which property was reclassified because of a home office. Julie Pfeiffer of the International Association of Assessing Officers says each state has its own code for property assessment, but in some states, municipal rulings differ from those of the state. She advises talking to your local assessor.
"The question is whether a business use has an impact on other tenants," says attorney Fred S. Steingold, co-author of Leasing Space for Your Small Business. "Zoning for property is governed by your local ordinance on zoning, [which] often permits home offices." Search your state code on the web and talk with the zoning office. But to reassure your landlord, confirm your research with an opinion letter from a real estate attorney.