Thank you for considering to allow us to assist with you obtaining the required rental property license(s) for your property. Below are some of the most common questions that come up as someone starts the process.
The answer here is yes, and it applies whether you are an individual or a business entity. The DC Municipal Regulations Title 14, Section 200.3, states, “No person shall operate a housing business in any premises in the District of Columbia without first receiving a basic business license for the premise by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.”
If you are found to be renting a property without a valid business license, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs 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, this can open up a lot of other problem areas where you can be penalized in court. For example, if you are a non-compliant landlord, a judge can find fault with you 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.
RentJiffy’s words of wisdom: Get a license and be compliant. If you have recently purchased a property that has tenants, D.C. will allow you 60 days to become a licensed landlord.
The answer to your question depends on what type of rental scenario you have (or will have). If you will be renting the property for 31+ days at a time, you will need to obtain one of the following licenses depending on your property type:
- One-Family Rental License: Properties consisting of 1 unit. Examples of this would be single-family homes, townhomes, individual condominiums and/or and cooperative units, and individual rooms (including individual rooms in a residential house that the licensee also occupies).
Single-Family Home, Condo, Coop (One Family) Rental Overview
- Two-Family Rental License: Properties consisting of 2 units. Examples of this would be properties with an English basement apartment, a converted basement apartment, or a carriage house in a single-family home where the main residence is occupied by the property owner or another tenant.
Two-Family (2-Unit) Rental Overview
- Apartment House License: Rental buildings with 3 or more dwelling units
Apartment Building License Overview
If you will be renting the property on a short-term basis (30 days or less consecutively), you will need to obtain one or both of the following:
- Short-Term Rental License: This is for paid lodging for transient guests, with the host present unless it is a vacation rental.
Short Term & Vacation Rental Overview
- Vacation Rental License: This is for short-term rentals that operate within a host’s residential property. In this case, the transient guest has exclusive use of the host’s property during the transient guest’s stay, and the host is not present on the premises. With a vacation rental, the owner is permitted to rent the property for no more than 90 nights cumulatively in any calendar year. If the owner wants to rent the property for more than 90 nights, he or she must get an exemption.
Short Term & Vacation Rental Overview
If you will be renting a combination of short-term and long-term, then you will need multiple licenses to cover each category you qualify for.
Easy answer: It depends on which license category you require. There is only one license category that does not require a Certificate of Occupancy, and that is the One-Family Rental License.
All other license types require a Certificate of Occupancy to be issued to the owner of public record, who must use his/her name on the application in order for it to be valid.
The basic application for a single-family home, condo, or coop can take up to 30 days to be issued, but the timeframe usually depends on how long it takes to pass the required inspection of the premise and the complexity of your transaction. The timelines for licensing can differ depending on the property’s variables, which might include hold-ups such as:
- The property does not pass inspection. If this occurs, there’s no knowing how long it will take to remedy the failed items noted in the inspection report, and then pass a re-inspection.
- The property is owned by a business that is not registered in the District.
- The property requires a Certificate of Occupancy. It either does not have one, or it has a COO in a previous owner’s name.
Since the timeline can vary with the requirements of each license type, we provide more in-depth information on this subject in the “Start Here” section of the Support Center. To view more information, click the primer for the type of property license you are looking for:
Take a look at the next steps based on the license type you will need:
Ready to get a license in a Jiffy. Begin your easy hassle-free application at www.rentjiffy.com/licensing