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I want to start a business where I charge people to use my living room, wifi.

They can leave a tip for any of my coffee that they drink.

Is there a legality issue with this?

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    You will need to check the zoning laws of your neighborhood. If you have 20 cars in your residential driveway on a daily basis then you might need to move your business into a commercially zoned space. – MonkeyZeus Oct 29 '19 at 14:17
  • You'll also have to consider whether local health regulations, which can vary in different municipalities, are engaged because you're serving coffee, perhaps even if the coffee is offered free of (additional) charge. – phoog Oct 29 '19 at 16:57
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Yes.

Breach of zoning regulations: running a business in a residential area

Breach of internet providers terms of service: you need a business subscription

Breach of fire code: is your "business" rated for an occupancy of 20?

Breach of health code: Preparing food or beverages for sale without the proper certifications and a commercial kitchen

Other things to keep in mind: ADA accessibility, taxes, liability if someone is injured

Etc.

  • I just checked the NYC zoning regulations and it seems that running a business from one's home is actually permitted, subject to certain restrictions, so if those conditions were met there would be no breach of zoning regulations. I have no idea about the rest of the state. Also I am not sure that my office coffee service has city certification. I don't think most cities want to get into the business of regulating such things. In other words, this answer seems to overstate the situation. – phoog Oct 29 '19 at 17:14
  • Your office may qualify as a food service establishment, but the city/state is choosing not to enforce the regulation. However, if OP has 20 cars in a residential driveway they're going to have more attention put on them for that sort of thing. It does sound like they meet the definition of a food service establishment: "A food service establishment is a place where food is prepared and intended for individual portion service and includes the site at which the individual portions are provided, whether consumption occurs on or off the premises." – Luck Oct 29 '19 at 17:26
  • What if we were allowing people to prepare their own coffee? So we just charged for the space of sitting at our table, nothing more. – n_1 Oct 29 '19 at 20:12
  • @n_1 If you're still providing the coffee machines, that would simply shift you from serving to vending. And vending has its own regulations. https://regs.health.ny.gov/volume-title-10/967401200/part-14-food-service-establishments – Luck Oct 29 '19 at 20:50

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