The Requirements to Rent a Live-Work Loft

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The Requirements to Rent a Live-Work Loft

Staff Writer · Feb 21, 2010

For some kinds of artists and artisans, a live work loft might be a great solution for managing the costs of a studio and a rental home simultaneously.

Originally, a live work loft classification was provided for working artists in an urban area. Developers used this rental classification to build quasi-residential units in commercially zoned areas of cities and towns. Those who create a live work loft rental space can bypass some local use requirements and taxation, and that applies to the renters of these units as well.

Requirements for a Live Work Loft

Basically, in many situations involving this type of rental unit, a renter must prove that he or she is using the space not just for habitation, but for the creation of for-profit art production. In some areas around universities or art schools, a renter of a live work loft may have to show an “Artist in Residence” or AIR designation or a proof of enrollment in an art program or course to be eligible for these rentals. In other cases, artists may simply show a portfolio or provide other proof of a working art-related business. Artists who use live work loft spaces include painters, sculptors, performance artists, and those who work with new multimedia installations.

Provisions of a Live Work Loft

Because a live work loft is a hybrid commercial/residential space, renters may be exempted from some specific city requirements that apply to residential areas. In some cases, the use of a live work loft space is similar to a home business, where certification or a business license may be required by the city.

Some cities report problems with these kinds of requirements. Certification or licensing requirements for small businesses or artistic production are hard to enforce, and zoning professionals often find that these kinds of exemptions can be abused by renters.

Using a Live Work Loft Effectively

Most artists who legitimately use a live work loft have nothing to worry about. Documenting artistic production is generally fairly easy if the space is being used for art projects on a continual basis. Artists who want to profit from a live work loft should have a good working relationship with their landlords or rental agencies, so that they are on the same page if their production status as challenge by a municipality or other party.

Since the requirements for a live work loft vary, talk to rental representatives before getting involved in this kind of unique lease agreement and evaluate the risks and benefits of this kind of setup. A live work loft works best for those who truly want to put art production first and sacrifice some common residential amenities for the sake of their vocational passions. A live work loft should be seen as a temporary way to accommodate serious art production and not as a long-term residential space. Artists can cultivate their professional status by participating in collective urban gallery shows or other events, as long as this is allowed according to their particular lease agreement.

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