Renting Problems (Selling Online)

Hello All,

Has anyone had problems with having an online store and renting? I make garments and art for shirts.
I make them as a side hobby, I am selling a lot during Christmas. I have a sewing machine and printer. I use the spare room/garage as storage. I have registered as a sole trader and sell online and eBay/etsy no one would ever come to the house. It's strictly online, no transactions are done at the property.

Our property agency has given us a breach and advised we aren't allowed to have the printer or sell. They said the owner doesn't give us permission to operate.

Has this happened to anyone else?


  • You’d have to check the terms of your lease re carrying out commercial/industrial activity. It may have to do with zoning rules from council, or it might invalidate your landlords insurance. If it’s neither of these, unless the printer is particularly noisy, damaging the garage in some way or generating a lot of traffic with orders being picked up, they might want you out for some other reason e.g to sell the property or attract higher rent and be using this as an excuse. My first guess would be that the commercial/industrial activity invalidates their insurance.

  • Commercial activity? I don't think you read the post. I sell online, I would never give out my address.

    • Commercial activity means business activity. Doesn't mean customers coming to the place.

    • Sorry for not getting all the details right, but you keep editing your post.

      They obviously know about your sewing and printing of the t-shirts and as you say you’re “selling a lot”. So you’re running a manufacturing business out of the property. This may well breach their insurance terms. It’s either something like this or they just want you out for another reason and are using it as an excuse. Commercial probably isn’t the right word, perhaps ‘light industrial’ would better describe it.

      With hindsight you probably should have packed up/hidden your set up before the inspection (if you didn’t). It’s unfortunate that they’ve taken issue with it, as it sounds like it’s not causing any problems. Perhaps ask them what the problem with it is e.g. does it cause problems for their insurance? has a neighbour complained about something?

      There has to be some reason for them to take issue with it. It’s either a genuine reason or they simply want you out for another reason and are using this as an excuse. The only way to try and find out is to ask.

  • Our property agency has given us a breach and advised we aren't allowed to have the printer or sell. They said the owner doesn't give us permission to operate.

    That isn't up to the landlord. Let the VCAT decide.

    • Of course it's up to the landlord if they are operating a commercial business under a residential property contract. There's also the whole issue of tax also.

      Have you ever heard of insurance? Landlord could be out of pocket for the entire property if a fire was to start. It's illegal for a reason.

      • The tenant is WFH.

        • They were found out making commercial quantities of garments and you think it's WFH? Regulators and those who enforce them are not as dense as the argument you made. I highly suggest people take your comments more as entertainment rather than legal advice, as you suggested something which could further put OP out of pocket by having to pay the landlords court costs.

        • Running a home business isn’t WFH aka remote work.

  • seems like you are running a business from home which may be in breach of your contract.

  • Most residential rental agreements include a clause which specifically prohibits the use of the premises for business purposes, which by the sounds of it you're doing.

    You could always get creative with your reasoning and just tell them you're working from home like everybody else at the moment ;)

  • Op, the NCAT won’t evict you if you can provide evidence that your income has been impacted by covid and it’s now down by >25%.

    • "Yes I broke the law by running a commercial business in a residential property and also broke the contract as a result ' - won't work well in court.

  • Commercial insurance is significantly more expensive than residential insurance. Also, commercial insurance is usually paid by the tenant while residential is covered by landlord.

    Your landlord could be out of pocket for the whole entire building and surrounding area if a fire results from your equipment. Then they could easily turn around and put all that onto you. As you were the one who breached the contract you would potentially be liable for massive damages from faulty equipment. We have stringent regulations about these for a reason.

    You must stop now that you are found out, the jig is up and it's serious breaches of contract, potentially putting the landlord in harms way. The cheapest way out of this quagmire is to take your licks and stop, then rent another small commercial premise. With the way the economy is going at the moment it will be cheap as chips and the income you receive should easily cover it.

  • How did the agent and landlord become aware of it? Read properly what they wrote to you or ask them for clarification. It’s most likely for insurance purposes .
    It’s not often landlord care what you do unless it affects their property.

    Your printer might cause damage or catch fire and burn down the property and void the landlord’s insurance. Some mortgages also prohibit business being conducted on the premises

    They may let you continue if you pay them extra to upgrade their insurance, so ask them, kindly.

  • I would say the owner would charge more for commercial rent than private rent.. possible insurance issues too… thus the kybosh on it.

  • I would almost argue that everyone who's been working at home is in breach of their lease or strata agreements. The difference is, the typical person working at home won't even be noticed and because of that, no-one cares.

    So what have you done to be noticed? Noise? Neighbour complaints?