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How to Get a Washington DC Rental Property License

Illustration about the correct certifications for the rental proeprty
July 30, 2018 Washington DC

If you’re thinking about renting out a property in Washington, D.C., the process of getting required approvals may seem daunting or confusing. This primer will help you understand the steps involved in making your rental legal, as well as where to start.

  1. Basic Business License

Every landlord in D.C.must have a Basic Business License in order to rent out a property. If you intend to rent out more than one property, you will need to obtain a Basic Business License for each location. You need to determine what kind of license you need:

  • A One-Family Rental License is for single-family homes, townhouses, duplexes, individual condominium units, or individual rooms. Fees total $190.30 for a two-year license.
  • A Two-Family Rental License applies for an English basement apartment or converted basement apartment. Fees total $268.40 for a two-year license.
  • An Apartment License is required for apartments in buildings with three or more units, even if they aren’t all being rented out. Fees vary based on the number of units in the building.

Two Family Rental License applications cannot be submitted online, but you can pay fees and apply online and for the other license categories.

2. Combined Business Tax Registration Application

For tax purposes, you must register with the Office of Tax and Revenue by submitting form FR-500, the Combined Business Tax Registration Application. ​

3. Rent Control Registration

​After your Basic Business License application is approved, you must register the property as subject to rental control or exempt from rent control. Common exemptions from the city’s rent control law include buildings constructed after 1975 and people (not corporations) who own four or fewer rentals. You must submit the RAD Registration form with your approved Basic Business License Application to the DCRA Rental Accommodations Division before you can receive your license.

4. Housing Inspection

After a Basic Business License has been issued, your property must undergo a housing inspection. The Inspection Report form evaluates the rental unit for 17 items and 3 certifications. The form can give you an idea of the issues covered by the inspection – from the size of the unit to whether the appliances work – to help you prepare for the inspection in advance. The Inspections and Compliance Administration conducts the inspections to ensure that rental properties are up to code. If the property does not meet all requirements within 45 days of licensing, the license may be revoked and you may lose all fees paid in connection with the licensing process.

Still feeling confused or overwhelmed?  DCRA’s website offers more information and answers about rental registration.

And if you’re short on time or just don’t want to deal with the red tape, Gordon James Realty can also assist you throughout the registration process and can coordinate property inspections with the DCRA on your behalf.

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