YouTubers Face Fines, Possible Eviction for Making Videos From Their Home

By Nathan Grayson on at

YouTuber and Call of Duty team owner Justin ‘KOSDFF’ Chandler recently moved into a home in Cobb County, Georgia with a bunch of fellow YouTubers. Their plan? To play games, vlog, and, you know, exist. But then they got in trouble with the law.

It was a strange situation from the get-go. Seemingly out of the blue, Chandler said he received a notification from the Homeowner’s Association that doing YouTube stuff in Cobb County, Georgia counts as running a business from your home. He was warned that he and his housemates could face fines of $136 per day or, failing that, eviction, depending on what a court ended up ruling. How did this happen? Apparently a disgruntled neighbour clued in the HOA after they got upset about a parked car. Neighbours! Such fun!

Still, it’s a legitimately worrisome situation. In a video, Chandler, who has a background in law, laid out the stakes. “This extremely unique and rare scenario poses the question: [Does] filming and uploading YouTube videos from your home constitute the home as a business?” he asked. “Does it matter how many views I have or how much income I make from it? Because to be honest, I do the same thing millions of other Americans do.”

He noted that his equipment was said to be the main culprit, but added that if that’s the case, what’s to stop an online business from transforming into a home business the second somebody, say, breaks out a webcam to conduct a meeting?

Speaking to AJC, Dana Johnson, Cobb County’s head of community development, said that the problem was actually multifaceted. The county had issued a “notice of violation” because 1) Chandler and friends had too many unrelated people living in the same house, and 2) they didn’t have a business licence.

“There are specific rules for running a business out of your home, which differs from those in a commercial area, to ensure that the residential integrity of neighbourhoods are not compromised,” said Johnson.

Earlier today, Chandler said he applied for and received a business licence, so that part is taken care of. Still, there’s the pesky matter of the US's archaic zoning laws to deal with. On that front, Chandler is less optimistic.

On the upside, Chandler said he’s received invites to set up shop in neighbouring counties, so he and his fellow YouTubers are not without options.

That said, I doubt this is the last we’ll hear about this sort of situation. Networks like YouTube and Twitch have blurred the lines between business and hobby and then kicked some sand atop those blurred lines. At what precise point does social media turn from a hobby into a business? Finding one that’s universally applicable is probably impossible, given that subscriber numbers and things of the like are not guarantees of a decent or liveable wage. So when does law enforcement get involved, and how? These are big questions, ones I’m not entirely sure local governments are equipped to deal with at the moment. But I suppose we’ll see.