A popular YouTube personality now based in Cobb learned the hard way that creating videos without a business license violated one county ordinance. While Justin Chandler says he has now remedied that issue, another ordinance may require him and his five roommates to move out of their east Cobb home.
Chandler, who uses the handle KOSDFF on Twitter and YouTube, has hundreds of thousands of followers on both sites, including nearly 995,000 on YouTube. He is a member of Team Kaliber, a competitive team in the “Call of Duty” video game community.
In one of his YouTube videos, the 31-year-old describes himself as a “professional YouTuber,” who films his life wherever he goes, his daily travels and his time at home. He uploads those videos, as well as those of his gaming sessions, to the video streaming site.
In the same video, he says he resides with a “whole bunch of my friends who do the exact same thing.”
Chandler was given a notice of violation by Cobb County code enforcement officers on Jan. 10 for running his YouTube operation in the home and for having too many unrelated people residing in the east Cobb house he leases.
“So apparently doing YouTube from your home in Cobb County, Georgia, counts as running a business from your home,” Chandler said on his Twitter account, which has more than 236,000 followers.
It does, says Dana Johnson, director of Cobb’s Community Development Agency.
“If he is producing content and receiving revenue from the content produced at his home, then he is running a business and must file for a business license,” Johnson said. “Just because he makes an occupation in a manner that is new and innovative does not relieve him of his obligation to pay business taxes, just as all other businesses are required to do.”
There is no fine attached to either violation, Johnson said, as only a judge may issue fines related to code violations. Tenants who are cited are given the opportunity to work with the county to come into compliance regarding the violated county code, with the issue only escalated to magistrate court if they do not come into compliance.
“The goal of code enforcement is not to punish people,” Johnson said. “It is to ensure that all individuals are operating in compliance with the county code.”
Speaking to the MDJ via email Friday, Chandler said he has been a full-time YouTuber for about three years, first starting on the site as a hobby. He previously worked for Scuf Gaming, a company that sells high-end accessories and customized gaming controllers for video game consoles and personal computers. It was while at Scuf that his YouTube channel grew to a point where he was working on it nonstop, and chose to focus solely on it as it outearned his actual job.
Though the work Chandler does on his YouTube channel does not bring clients, customers or employees to his home, county code enforcement officials said his videos made for income can be considered business activity, while his computer and video devices could be considered as business equipment.
Homeowners who wish to operate home-based businesses must meet a number of requirements, such as having no mechanical equipment being used for the business except such equipment typical of “purely household and hobby purposes,” and using no more than 25 percent of the home for the operation of the business.
“The purpose of these requirements are to ensure the residential integrity of neighborhoods in Cobb County,” Johnson said. “As long as a business is operating in compliance with these requirements, there are generally no issues. The individual running a home-based business is required to obtain a business license, as all businesses in Cobb County are required to have.”
A photo posted by Chandler on his Twitter account Friday afternoon showed his business license — an official document that Chandler says set him back $470.
COMPLAINT: PEOPLE COMING, GOING ‘24 HOURS A DAY’
“I’m now licensed to upload YouTube videos from my home in Cobb County,” he tweeted Friday. But Chandler has yet to remedy the other violation against him — having too many unrelated people in his home.
Chandler said that of his five roommates, several are professional YouTubers like him, while others livestream their gaming sessions. Another roommate is a professional eSports player — essentially a competitive video gamer.
The six are in a two-year lease on the home at $5,000 a month.
“When we moved in, the homeowners invited several of our neighbors over to meet us. They were very welcoming and intrigued by what we do for a living,” Chandler said. “We hope they think of us as we are and that’s private young professionals, although I’m sure we are categorized as gamers.”
Chandler said he believes the code violations are a result of just one neighbor complaining to the county.
“Everyone else we’ve met has been extremely friendly and welcoming. We believe the complaining neighbor disapproves of our ages and chosen profession,” Chandler said. “Historically, this neighborhood has only housed traditional nuclear families. Although our occupation in no way interferes with our neighbors’ quiet enjoyment of their homes, we feel the homeowners association simply doesn’t want young people living here.”
According to county code enforcement’s case synopsis obtained by the MDJ, complaints regarding Chandler’s home noted that several cars were left on the street so that people could come and go freely, with people “coming and going 24 hours a day.” The home’s exterior and interior lights were also reportedly left on day and night.
Several residents in Chandler’s neighborhood declined to be formally interviewed Friday for this story, though two homeowners when asked said they had no complaints about Chandler or activities at his home.
County code defines a “single-family dwelling unit” as “one or more rooms” arranged, designed or used as living quarters for one family — including up to one unrelated adult, or two or fewer unrelated adults and their children and/or grandchildren. Exceptions to that and other parts of the code may be considered as part of a temporary land use permit, which must earn approval by the Cobb Board of Commissioners.
Under the code, Chandler must come into compliance with the number of unrelated individuals living in a single-family dwelling or file for the land use permit, Johnson said. No such application had been filed as of Friday afternoon, according to Cathey Pickett, code enforcement manager for the county. A follow-up inspection on the home is scheduled for Tuesday, she said.
But Chandler indicated that going that route is not the likely solution for he and his roommates, adding that they are communicating with the homeowners.
“We have expressed to them the want to cancel our lease and move as its the path of least resistance.”