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Residential

Guidelines

If you intend to start or run a business under our Home Office Scheme, please take note of the following guidelines.

 

Eligibility

You must be an eligible resident of the flat, and meet the conditions set for flat usage, business activities, and safety.

Person conducting the business

You must be:

  • 18 years old or above
  • The flat owner, authorised occupier, or tenant of the flat

Registration with ACRA

  • Before starting operations, you must register your business with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), unless it is exempted under the Business Registration Act
  • If you prefer, you can apply for a Licence for Home Office Scheme before registering your business with ACRA. In such cases, please select your profile as "Individual (I am an applicant not representing any company or applying on behalf of any other people)" before you complete the application. You can subsequently register your business at a later stage

Conditions of flat use

  • Your flat must remain primarily as a place of residence, with any business use being the secondary purpose and confined within the flat
  • You cannot use your flat as a home office or registered address for a society

Business activities

Your business and/ or its activities must not:

  • Generate noise, smoke, odour, chemical/ liquid waste, or dust, which could become a nuisance to your neighbours
  • Be illegal, unlawful, or immoral (e.g. gambling or pornography-related activities)
  • Introduce or cause extraneous human or vehicular traffic to the surroundings or neighbourhood
  • Involve 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 visits)
  • Sell/ buy any physical goods in or around the flat
  • Display any signage, advertisements, posters, etc
  • Adversely affect the character, ambience, and environment of the residential estate

Safety requirements

Your business must abide by these safety requirements:

  • You must take all necessary safety precautions and ensure that the business activities do not pose any danger to human lives or damage any property
  • The structural load and consumption of electricity must not exceed the normal residential limit
  • Any storage and/ or use of dangerous chemicals and/ or hazardous substances is strictly prohibited
  • Before commencing any activities, your business must comply with the regulations of other government authorities and obtain the relevant licences/ approvals
  • In accordance with fire safety requirements set by the Fire Safety and Shelter Department (FSSD), you must install the following 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)

Note: This FSSD safety requirement is mandatory as the papers, files, and office equipment in a home office pose a slightly higher risk than those of an ordinary dwelling, thus the need for a fire extinguisher and smoke detector. If you have any enquiries on the fire safety requirements, please email SCDF_qp_consultant@scdf.gov.sg.

Operations

These operations guidelines can help ensure the smooth commencement of your business. Learn about your business registration and business structure requirements, the limit for non-resident employees working in the flat, property tax, and more.

Business registration, structure, and signage

Unless exempted under the Business Registration Act, your business must be registered with ACRA as 1 of these business structures:

  • Sole-proprietorship 
  • Partnership
  • Limited Liability Partnership
  • Company (Private Limited)

To maintain the residential ambience, any business or advertising signage is not allowed.

Employees in the flat

There is no limit to the number of employees in your business. However, only 2 non-residents are allowed to work in your flat. These can be:

  • Partners
  • Shareholders
  • Directors of the business
  • Employees

Property tax

The owner-occupied concessionary tax rate continues to apply as long as the flat is principally occupied as a residence by you or any other co-owner.

Business types

We have listed examples of both permissible and non-permissible businesses under the Home Office Scheme, and the options that are available to you if your business is non-permissible.

Permissible businesses

  • Accountancy services
  • Architectural services
  • Consultancy services (e.g. business, engineering, IT/ management, education etc.)
  • Design/ advertising services
  • Transportation services
  • Estate agency
  • Insurance/ financial planning services
  • Technology-based/ knowledge-intensive business
  • Trading office

Non-permissible businesses

If your business is part of this list, you may use the flat as an administration office, and the flat address for business registration with ACRA. For such cases, any business activities carried out in the flats must be administrative. All other business activities are to be conducted elsewhere, and no clients or customers are allowed to visit the flat.

  • Beauty, hairdressing, or massage therapy services 
  • Business by building/ renovation contractors
  • Car trading business
  • Card/ palm reading or fortune telling in any form
  • Commercial school (e.g. music school, language school, tuition centre, etc)
  • Conducting of dress making/ embroidery lessons
  • Courier business
  • Food catering/ restaurants
  • Funeral chapels or homes
  • Maid/ employment agency
  • Mausoleums
  • Ophthalmic dispensary/ pharmacy/ medical/ dental clinic or veterinary medicine
  • Repair of household appliances, electrical products, footwear, etc.
  • Sales/ marketing that involves conducting seminars/ talks for large numbers of customers
  • Shops and any form of retail activity, including pet shops
  • Manufacturing, preparation, or processing of products and/ or goods such as:
    • Food products
    • Beverages
    • Textiles
    • Apparel
    • Handbags
    • Footwear
    • Wood and/ or paper products
    • Pharmaceutical products
    • Soap
    • Food chemicals
    • Additives
    • Joss sticks
    • Camphor products
    • Glass
    • Plastic
    • Rubber products
    • Domestic appliances
    • Watches and clocks
    • Other related products

FAQs

Here are some FAQs from other Home Office Scheme applicants. You can check this section to see if your enquiry is already addressed here.

Can I submit my Home Office application before registering my business with ACRA?

Yes. Please select your profile as “Individual (I am an applicant not representing any company or applying on behalf of any other people)” before you complete the application.

I cannot operate my business from my flat as it falls under the list of non-permissible businesses under the Home Office Scheme. However, does the Home Office Scheme allow me to use my flat as an administration office and/ or as the address under which I register my business with ACRA?

Yes. Even if your business is under the list of non-permissible businesses, you can still use it as an administrative office, or as the address for business registration with ACRA. However, the business activities carried out in your flat must be administrative, with all other business activities conducted elsewhere. Also, clients or customers are not allowed to visit the flat.

Can I be exempted from the FSSD’s fire extinguisher and smoke detector requirement if I do not have any employees working in my home office?

No. You must still abide by FSSD's safety requirement to ensure the premise is safe for occupancy. The requirement is not based on the presence of employees – installing a fire extinguisher and smoke detector is a minimum safety requirement for any home office, including those under our Home Office Scheme. 

The FSSD requirements for home offices are more lenient than those for commercial premises. You can easily purchase the required fire extinguisher and smoke detector from a DIY shop. The extinguisher required for home office use is a 2kg ABC Dry Chemical Powder fire extinguisher. The smoke detector can be the basic single-station, self-contained type, which is easy to install, battery operated, and does not require any added wiring.

Why is there a 2-person limit on how many non-residents I can have working in my home office?

This limit is set to keep the scale of business activity small in order to minimise disturbance to the neighbouring flats and not overly compromise the residential ambience. This ensures that larger businesses and companies operate from commercial premises.

Why can’t I display business signage of advertisements? These are important for my business.

Display signages and business communications like advertisements would negatively affect the residential character of the estate. While we do our best to exercise flexibility towards businesses operating from flats, we are ever mindful of protecting the living environment of HDB residents. Hence, we cannot allow such displays as these do not align well with residential areas.

Can I use my home office flat to store goods?

No. The loading and unloading of goods, which automatically includes goods storage, is not allowed under the Home Office Scheme. Storing goods in the flat would lead to additional human, vehicular, and lift traffic, which impacts the residential nature of the area and inconveniences other residents.