SOHO - Office, Home Or Home Office?
Increasingly, we are seeing more developments marketed as “SOHO” in the property market. “SOHO” is essentially a marketing term used by property developments to refer to Small Office, Home Office. Many would-be buyers are unsure whether “SOHO” units are approved for office or home use, or both.
URA does not recognize “SOHO” as a planning term and does not specifically approve a development for “SOHO” use. Rather, developments being marketed as SOHO today are approved either as Office or Residential but not for both uses.
We have noticed that some office developments are being marketed as residential apartments by calling themselves “SOHO”. This is misleading and inappropriate as the office development may not fully meet the guidelines and various technical agencies’ requirements for Residential use (eg. provision of sufficient parking facilities). Similarly, home buyers should not be misled by the term ‘SOHO’ to think that they can convert the residential unit to a pure office.
Residential homeowners or tenants who want to conduct selected small-scale businesses from homes can make use of the existing Home Office Scheme. This is not to be confused with “SOHO” as these units under the Home Office Scheme are still approved and used primarily for Residential purposes. To ensure that the home office uses do not disturb the neighbours, applicants under the Home Office Scheme must meet the stipulated conditions and performance criteria. For example, there is a limit on the number of employees and type of business uses that can be conducted within the homes. More details on the Home Office Scheme can be found at http://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/home-office.aspx?p1=Register&p2=Register.
Would-be property buyers should be cautious and are advised to check the approved use of the property before committing to any purchases.