Is It Illegal To Live In Your Leased/Rented Business Space?

Law Blog

In the first season of the show Better Call Saul, the main character is attorney Jimmy McGill, and he rents an office inside the building but behind the beauty salon. He also lives there secretly and it was quite humorous to see him hurriedly transform his space from a office into very makeshift sleeping quarters and vice a versa.             

Can you get away with this sort of thing in real life? It depends on several variables.

The Landlord and the Lease 

In Jimmy's case, evidently the landlady (presumably the owner of the salon) was willing to look the other way, which could also happen in real life. If you are honest about your intentions, your landlord may even consider making some modifications to the property for your needs, provided it is legal for you to live there otherwise.

If you have signed a lease, you are bound by what it says in the lease. A lease is a legal contract when signed by both parties (the landlord and lessee). If the lease says the space must be used for business space only and specifically forbids habitation, then they have the right to take you to court and local/state procedures to evict you for breaking the rules. Some leases even specify additional fines for not following the terms of the lease.


One thing that would deter a landlord from allowing you to live on the premises is insurance. Their insurance could prohibit the use of the building for anything but office space or other types of business use. Your living there could become a liability to the landlord.

Local Zoning Ordinances

To live in your business space legally, it would need to be zoned both for business and residential use. You or your landlord could risk being fined by the local building and zoning office. Besides the zone, there are probably certain other requirements that need to be met such as:

  • Specified areas and facilities for bathing, toileting, living space,
  • Two ways to escape the building in the event of a fire or other disaster, or
  • Having smoke detectors and CO2 alarms.

Other Considerations

You should consider the hazards of living in your workspace. If you are using harsh or toxic chemicals in your business, this could pose a house hazard to yourself and anyone who might stay with you such as a spouse or a partner.

 If you lived there in your business premises with a child, and the conditions there could cause harm to them, Child Protective Services (CPS) could get involved.

Legal Advice

If your landlord is amenable to you using the space for a dual purpose, but the local statutes or rules prohibit it, you should consult a real estate lawyer {like those at real estate LA Law} for specific advice on the situation.


25 September 2015

File Chapter 7, and Keep Your Home

Many people assume that when they file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they will have to give up their homes and other property. This is not necessarily the case. I am a bankruptcy attorney, and I have helped many clients file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy without giving up homes, cars, and other property. When you file for bankruptcy, the property you are allowed to keep depends on your individual circumstances and the state where you live. Most states allow exemption for property you are currently paying for. This blog will guide you through that information and help you determine if filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the right choice for you.