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Homes and home working: a property law perspective

Michael W. Poulsom (Manchester Law School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK)

Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law

ISSN: 2514-9407

Article publication date: 16 December 2022

Issue publication date: 4 May 2023




This purpose of this paper is to examine whether disciplines outside law demonstrate consensus on the attributes of home, whether, to the extent that there is consensus, property law supports those attributes, whether those attributes can be reconciled with working from home, and how far property law is able to address uncertainty regarding the regulation of working from home.


This paper identifies conceptions of “home” from non-law disciplines. It examines the extent to which property law in England and Wales supports or challenges those conceptions. It examines the extent to which working in homes disrupts or distorts those conceptions. It assesses the extent to which property law engages with that disruption.


A lack of clarity in how “home” is defined and perceived in non-law disciplines, and a tendency in those disciplines to produce static and decontextualized notions of home is reflected in inconsistent property law approaches to protection of important “home” attributes. Recognition by property law of the prevalence of home working is relatively undeveloped. An under-appreciation of “context” dominates both cross-disciplinary perceptions of home, and the support which property law provides to those perceptions.

Research limitations/implications

This paper focuses on conceptions of “home” drawn from disparate disciplines and seeks to find consensus in a diverse field. It concentrates on the regulation by covenants of the use of homes for non-domestic purposes in England and Wales.

Practical implications

Suggested alterations to property law and practice, and to the imposition and construction of covenants against business use, might better reflect the prevalence of working from home and clarify the circumstances in which homes can properly be used for work purposes.

Social implications

This paper identifies that in its inconsistent recognition of “home” attributes in general, and in the lack of established principles for regulating the use of homes for business purposes in particular, property law offers insufficient certainty to occupiers wishing either to work at home, or to resist doing so. It identifies that a broader cross-disciplinary investigation into the inter-relationship between living spaces and working spaces would be beneficial.


The originality of this paper lies in its examination from a property law perspective of established cross-disciplinary conceptions of home in the context of the recent growth of working in homes.



Poulsom, M.W. (2023), "Homes and home working: a property law perspective", Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 1-19.



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