Rental/ Business License for a Rental Property
All rental properties in Washington DC are required to be licensed. Keyrenter offers the service for completing the rental license.
Rental Property Licensing for a One Family Rental: This is a 5-stage process that includes completing a pre-inspection, FR500, scheduling and conducting the property inspection with DOB, completing and submitting the Basic Business License Application, and filing with the Rental Accommodations Division.
Rental Property Licensing for a Multi Family Rental: This is a multi-stage process that includes completing a pre-inspection, obtaining a COO that requires a DOB in person inspection, completing and submitting the Basic Business License Application, filing with the Rental Accommodations Division, and submitting an FR500.
Keyrenter does not guarantee the property will pass the inspection and there may be repairs required by DOB that will be at the cost to the owner to receive a passing grade. The following list is the DOB inspection checklist that you should ensure your property follows prior to your inspection. DOB may identify conditions that would cause the property to fail the inspection that is not on the checklist.
1. Provide a smoke detector on every level, vicinity of the sleeping room and every sleeping room (Current IPMC)
2. Provide a carbon monoxide detector in the vicinity of the sleeping rooms where there is a fuel burning appliance (Current IPMC)
3. Does the space requirement for occupancy – 70 Square feet for sleeping room for one person and 50 square feet for each additional person? (Current IPMC)
4. Does the ceiling height meet minimum requirements in all habitable spaces 7 feet or basement 6’8’’ and 6’4’’ under beams? (Current IPMC)
5. Does the unit meet light and ventilation requirements? (Current IPMC)
6. Are all exit and security doors readily openable without the need for keys, special knowledge or effort? (Current IPMC)
7. Do sleeping rooms have adequate emergency escape or rescue openings-
a. Certify that all required emergency escape and rescue openings from the inside of the room without the use of keys, or tool, (bars, grilles, gates, or similar devices must be releasable or removable from the inside without the use of a key, tool or force greater than that which is required for normal operation of the escape and rescue opening)
b. A minimum net clear opening of 5.7 sq. ft. ( or 5 sq. ft. unit if unit is grade level)
c. A minimum net clear opening height dimension of 24 inches
d. A minimum net clear opening width dimension of 20 inches.
e. A finished sill height of not more than 44 inches above the floor.
8. Are sleeping rooms free from gas meters and fuel burning appliances? ( Current IPMC)I. Are walls, ceiling, doors and windows free of peeling paint, cracks, holes, dampness & uncleanness? (Current IPMC)
9. Are windows & doors (including hardware) in good repair, weather tight and are screens provided? (Current IPMC)K. Are floors, steps and walking surfaces sound reasonably level? (Current IPMC)L. Do all porches and exterior and interior steps have a handrail, guard and balustrades? (Current IPMC)
10. Are electrical outlets, switches and fixtures in good repair and working properly? (Current IPMC)
11. Are the required number of electrical receptacles and light fixtures present? (Current IPMC)
12. Does the dwelling unit contain the required plumbing fixtures in good repair? (Current IPMC)
13. Is the heating system operational and in good repair? (Current IPMC)
14. Is the water heating equipment operational and in good repair? (Current IPMC)
15. Are all appliances installed properly and maintained in safe and good working condition? (Current IPMC)
16. Provide a fire extinguisher inside the unit? (DC 2013 Property Maintenance Code)
17. Is the exterior properly maintained? (Roof, gutters, downspouts, walkways, porches, etc. (Current IPMC)?
The turnaround time to complete all stages is approximately 5 – 10 business days if there are no delays by District agencies processing the license. Such delays may include but are not limited to a Clean Hands Certificate, issues with your COO, incomplete tax filings, etc.
To reach out with questions and/or to schedule an in-person visit, please fill out this form:
What is a license to rent? A license to rent is required in the DC to rent single or multi-family properties. Washington DC landlords need to apply for a basic business license (BBL) per rental unit.
What are the services that Keyrenter offers?
· Obtaining the Basic Business License (BBL)
· Registering residential rental properties with the Rental Accommodations Division (RAD)
· Registering residential rental properties with the DC Office of Tax & Revenue (OTR)
· Coordinating the required Dept of Buildings (DOB) licensing inspection
· Obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy for multi-unit properties
· Pre-Licensing Inspection
· BBL Renewal Services
How often does a business license need to be renewed in DC? You can purchase a 2-year or a 4-year license.
What do inspectors generally look for? The goal for the inspection is to ensure that rental units comply to code. Please see above for a detailed list regarding what an inspector typically looks for.
What happens if I fail the inspection?
You will be required to correct the failed items and have the property re-inspected. There is a re-inspection fee of $90.00
Is a condo considered a multifamily property?
A condo is a single-family home. You are only licensing the unit that you own
Can I use a CO detector that plugs into an outlet?
You must install a CO detector(s) if there is gas in the property and it must be fixed to the wall or ceiling so that an occupant cannot easily remove it.
Does the property need to be inspected when I renew the license?
No. You only need to do the inspection one time…for now!
Do I need a Certificate of Occupancy?
No. You only need to have a COO if you have a multiunit property. Single family homes do not required a COO
How much is the rental license?
• One Family Rental – $198.00
• Two Family Rental – $283.80
• 3 Units: $453.20
• 4 Units: $508.20
• 5 Units: $563.20
• 6 Units: $663.30
• 7 Units: $718.30
• 8 Units: $773.30
• 9 Units: $828.30
• 10 Units: $883.30
What are the consequences of not being licensed?
If you are found to be renting a property without a valid business license, the Department of Buildings (DOB) considers you to be non-compliant and can issue you a Notice of Infraction. Note: The first offense is considered a Class 1 infraction and carries a $2,000 penalty. If you continue to incur infractions, be aware that each subsequent infraction will be double the amount of the previous one, going up to $16,000 per infraction.
Additionally, when you are not licensed or your license isn’t valid (expired), you can be penalized in court. For example, if you are a non-compliant landlord, a judge can find you at fault because you were collecting rent illegally. The judge can then reverse all rent back to the tenant, sometimes at 3x the amount paid. Another possible scenario: Your tenant(s) would not have to pay their rent, and you would not be able to evict them.
I am renting my property and I already have tenants. But I am not yet licensed. Am I going to be fined?
If you have recently purchased a property that has tenants, D.C. will allow you 60 days to become a licensed landlord. In most cases DC believes in voluntary compliance, meaning that they do not penalize you if you are coming into compliance.
I have multiple properties. Can I put all of them on one license?
No. Because each rental property has its own unique property tax identification number, each one is required to have a separate license. For example, if you own 3 condominium units, each with its own tax identification number, you are required to obtain 3 one-family rental licenses. (Don’t confuse this example with a townhouse that has a basement apartment; that property as a whole will have just one tax identification number, and because it is 2 units will require a two-family rental license.)
I just had a home inspection when I purchased the property. Can I use that home inspection report to obtain my license?
No. DOB will not accept a report by a private home inspector. You are required to submit to and pass an inspection by a DC Government inspector. Note: the DC Government does not charge to conduct an initial inspection, but it will charge a fee if the property fails and requires a re-inspection. Additionally, the code for a rental property is vastly different than the code for an owner-occupied property.
What is Business Tax Registration?
In D.C., renting property and collecting income, no matter how little or how much, is considered a business activity. Accordingly, you must obtain a Business Tax Registration. The Business Tax Registration will require you, whether you are a D.C. resident or not, to file a tax return with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue, on an annual basis, to report your rental income. Once your tax return is processed, you’ll have to pay the associated tax, known as the Unincorporated Business Franchise Tax, if the applicant is not a corporation. Otherwise, a corporation will have to pay a Corporate Franchise Tax. As of 2021, the Corporate and Unincorporated Franchise Tax rates are 8.25%. Additionally, there is $250 minimum tax if your gross receipts are $1 million or less. The Business tax registration is included as part of Keyrenter’s basic license package.
Do I need a license if I am renting out rooms in my house?
As long as you will be renting to 5 or less unrelated people, you can obtain a One-Family Rental license. But if you want to rent to more than 5 people, you will need a Rooming House license. At this time Keyrenter does not offer licensing services for Rooming Houses.
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