5 Steps to Getting a Washington DC Rental Property License

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Getting into the rental business can be a great additional source of income. When you find the right tenant, the property pays for itself and provides the opportunity for purchasing additional rental properties. This works as a great way to build a retirement fund in the future and can help provide financial stability. The only hitch is getting your DC rental property license to get started, but we’ve got you covered on understanding the do’s and don’t’s when it comes to that. Read on to discover the 5 basic steps you need to take to get started.

1. Get the Correct Basic Business License

Not only do you need to get a basic business license to rent out a rental property in DC, but you have to make sure you get the correct business license. If you choose to have multiple rental properties, then you’ll need a business license for each individual location. There are three options to choose from:

  1. One Family Rental Property License – Acting as a two-year license, this is suitable for single-family homes, duplexes, townhouses, and individual condominium units.
  2. Two Family Rental Property License – Perfect for English basement apartments or converted basement apartments. Works as a two-year license. 
  3. Apartment License – This is required for apartment buildings whether each unit is rented out or not. 

2. File a Clean Hands Certification

You can grab the application online, but each applicant for a business license must additionally submit a clean hands certification. This documents that you don’t owe more than $100 in fees, taxes, or any penalties. You’ll need to provide your tax information with the submission. 

3. Register With the Tax and Revenue Office

By submitting form FR-500 for tax purposes you can register with the Office of Tax and Revenue. You’ll need to include your business address, all names of the proprietor, and your social security number or Federal Employer Identification Number. You can locate any additional required information on the online form. 

4. Get a Housing Inspection

You have 45 days to register for a housing inspection. The inspector will write a full report determining if the home or individual units are up to code. If the property doesn’t meet all requirements or isn’t completed within 45 days, then you can lose your license and it can be revoked. You may also lose all fees already paid towards the licensing process.  

The inspection will provide documentation that your property is safe to rent out to potential tenants, and can act as proof that the property is in good condition. 

5. Register for Rent Control

​Once your Basic Business License application is approved, you need to register the property as subject to rental control or exempt from rent control. Common exemptions include buildings constructed after 1975 and people owning four or less rentals. 

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Don’t Proceed Without a License

5 Steps to Getting a Washington DC Rental Property License

Tenants have the ability to report illegal or unfair rentals, and many of them know their rights. To avoid facing penalty fines, losing potential tenants in the future, and dealing with the chance of getting sued, make sure you’ve followed the steps to getting your rental property license. This may help you in the chance a tenant reports you. It can also assist in the eviction process or going to court if they’re behind on rent.  

Filling out the primary paperwork is an easy 15-minute process, and if you follow these steps during your application you can be prepared to have this knocked out within a day. Some options will allow you to apply online and print out your basic business license for an immediate turnaround, but only if you have the proper paperwork filed and ready to submit. It can be a benefit to schedule a property inspection before you begin the process simply to save you time. 

Now that you’ve gotten all of your paperwork in order, if you’d prefer to apply in person, you can do so at this address:

Business License Center, 1100 4th Street, SW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC 20024.

You can also mail your forms to:

Wells Fargo Bank DC Government Wholesale Lockbox 913607175 Columbia Gateway Drive Columbia, MD 21046

You must include a check written to the DC Treasurer. The online process will save you a trip and keep you from waiting in line or waiting on the mail. Regardless of the filing option of your choice, you’re on your way to becoming a DC landlord!

You’ve finally obtained your rental property license, doesn’t it feel good? Now you can move forward with renting to an excited new tenant, avoid the penalties and fines that come with not having your rental property license, and start bringing in some income. 

Ask for Help

The final and most beneficial step following getting your rental property license is hiring a property management company to help find the perfect tenant(s). Rather than filling out even more paperwork, dealing with potential applicants and tenants face to face, and a million other tasks, why not have somebody handle it for you? Avoid the hassle and headache by having a property manager that deals with the groundwork while you collect the payment each month. 

A team like ours at Nomadic Real Estate will bring in years of experience, insight on how to spruce up the property for renters if needed, and help you get your rental property license if needed. You’ll have an extra set of eyes to look over the fine details of your rental, help with creating a lease agreement that fits your standards and needs, and also somebody you can trust to do things right. 

Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns, or if you’d like to get your rental property on the market asap. We’ll help you through every step of the process and you won’t pay us a dime until we’ve gotten a tenant moved in. You won’t pay us until you’ve been paid. 

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