Legal Rules for Events in Private Homes

A unique feature of home events is that the legalities of private events in private homes is usually flexible. There is rarely a requirement to get liquor licenses, event permits, event insurance (although never a bad idea to have), fire marshall clearance, and ADA accessible bathrooms (never a bad idea) for private events on private land. We are not lawyers but can refer you to some great ones. 

Different localities and countries vary on this, but typically within the United States, adults can gather in a private group in a private space and do just about anything. However if you are charging for tickets as a business then you begin to inherit liabilities and requirements for reasonable care. 

We learned in Denver that if someone can walk off the street to your event and buy a ticket, your event may be classified as “public” and get busted, especially if alcohol is being sold (or included with a ticket bought onsite). If your event is fairly secret, you may be able to exist in a gray area before your event scales.

Cost Savings with Home Events

If the the home we’re using is setup for entertaining, we often save thousands on event costs. Every chair, table, cup, and trash can that they already have is one less we need to rent. I like to ask the host of the space how they typically setup to entertain and make their generosity fun.

Invest in a quality decor item that you can leave with the host as a gift. For one high-end party we spent about $15,000 on large plants and lighting for a private residence. We left half the decor as a gift, which ensured our continued access to the space for free


How to Estimate How Many Guests the Home Can Host

To calculate the capacity of the home you’ll want to consider:

  • Parking available: Include advice on where to park legally in directions to the event.
  • Public transport options: Include the nearest transportation hubs or lines in directions to the event.
  • Number of seated and standing guests that can fit comfortably.
  • Number and location of bathrooms: More is always better. You’ll want a minimum of two bathrooms for up to 100 guests. You’ll want signage to direct people to bathrooms.
  • Rooms that are off-limits to guests: You’ll want signage or privacy screens.
  • ADA Accessibility: note if main event areas and at least one bathroom is wheelchair accessible.


How Not To Piss Off Your Neighbors

There are two ways that parties piss off neighbors first. Here’s different tactics to troubleshoot. In general, ask and listen before assuming the best solution. We often find empathetic listening is what the neighbors want, the gifts are just a bonus. It may be as simple as a good bottle of wine and a conversation.

Guests Cars Overwhelm Parking or Clog Traffic

  1. Provide clear instructions to guests on parking and drop-off spots. Remind guests not to block private driveways.
  2. Recommend guests carpool (and provide way for car poolers to connect) or take taxi/Lyft.
  3. Allow for 1+ hour of arrival time to spread guest arrivals apart.
  4. Move your arrival hour to a low-traffic time of day for the neighborhood.
  5. Staff member(s) direct traffic and recommend parking locations during event.
  6. Provide a shuttle service from a parking lot to venue.

Noise! Typically it’s the music they hate but often it’s unruly groups waiting for ride pickups on the street that can sink you.

  1. Visit neighbors in advance of the event and ask them for feedback on having events nearby.
  2. Give your personal phone number to neighbors to contact directly with any problems during or after the event.
  3. Pick a reasonable time to turn off the music outside and let neighbors know you plan to follow local noise ordinances.
  4. Invite the neighbors to party with you.
  5. Drop off gifts to the neighbors. Some party planners have gone as far as to buy nice hotel rooms for neighbors to get away for the night.
  6. Overstaff your Door Team to ensure you won’t have a line out into the street. This can be as simple as having the host be at the Door during peak arrivals and have guests she knows personally skip the line.
  7. At the end of the event, instruct Security/Door to invite guests to stay off the public street until right before their ride arrives.
  8. Designate a smoking area away from neighbor’s windows or the public street. In some localities you could be fined for having open alcoholic beverages on the public street.

What are your questions about hosting an event in a home residence?