As you enter the world of becoming a Washington DC rental property owner, it’s crucial to recognize that you’re building a business. No matter if you’ve inherited an investment property you plan to rent or are purchasing, renovating, and renting single-family homes, condos, and rowhomes that you find, you’re establishing and maintaining a business.
For that reason, you need to know all about your required Washington DC basic business license, a necessary tool for building your business in the DC area. You may have a lot of questions about becoming an investor as you consider the business side of owning rental homes in our nation’s capital.
How to Become a Qualified Investor in Washington DC
The Washington DC rental market is a promising one, but it is also one of the most challenging due to the nature of how business operates here. As a result, you have to know the ins and outs of owning and operating real estate while managing its business side. This makes it crucial to obtain and understand your Washington DC basic business license.
Businesses that fail to follow Washington DC licensing or safety regulations could face significant financial penalties. That’s why it is so important to know what’s expected of you before you open your doors to a potential renter.
Legal notice: This article is not legal counsel. If you’re unsure how to operate your business or acquire the correct licensing, get in touch with your attorney or the Washington DC property management experts here at Renters Warehouse!
How to Obtain Your Washington DC Basic Business License
You need to obtain a Basic Business License for each rental property you own. This includes single-family homes. If you are renting a multi-family property (of any type) that has at least three units, you will need a separate apartment business license. These are all available to you at the Washington DC Business Center.
There is a fee to pay (around $100 at this time). Once you apply for the Washington DC Basic Business License, you will then need to register with the Washington DC Department of Housing and Community Development. This may allow you to register your property as a rent-controlled unit. You may also ask if your property can be considered exempt from rent control.
- You will also need to pass an inspection for each unit. Once you complete this, you can legally obtain a Certificate of Occupancy for the unit. Again, this has to be done for each one.
- This inspection is undertaken by the DCRA. Proof of your inspection must be available if you receive questions about it at some point, so be sure to store this information securely.
The county or city inspector will be looking at your rental homes to determine their condition and how safe and habitable they are. The inspector will also:
- Identify the number of people who will be occupying each unit
- Confirm proper certifications for the cooling and heating system
- Ensure that the property has proper ventilation
- Confirm that there is ready access to water
- Inspect the overall condition and look for safety concerns.
Keep in mind that your rental property will also need to meet any type of updated code or requirements in the Washington DC area. The Green Building Act is one key piece of legislation you need to consider if you have a newer property or you plan to renovate an existing one.
If you are buying a building from someone else, ensure all building codes are up to date before transferring ownership—this can be a very expensive process if you fail to do so.
Now that your property is in good condition and ready to be rented, it’s time to make sure your business is set up legally!
Applying for a Business License Is Not as Complex as It Sounds
Obtaining your Washington DC Basic Business License does not have to be complex. You can complete the document online and provide all of the necessary supporting documentation. This also verifies that you are the owner of the rental property in question.
- If you do not feel comfortable undertaking such an important venture online, you can schedule a consultation with your local DCRA office or complete the paperwork and mail it in.
- Once you have your business license, you are then able to obtain other components you need to operate legally in the Washington DC rental market.
- This includes your tax registration and employer identification number (EIN) if you need them.
Does It Sound Like a Lot of Work? Let Us Help You!
There’s no doubt that obtaining a Washington DC Basic Business License can be a complex process when your plate of tasks is already full. Yet, you do not have to do it alone or manage that long list of inspection updates you may need.
Not only can we help you buy properties for your investment portfolio that will not lead to such an exhaustive list, but we can handle the management of your entire rental property business! Get in touch with one of our Rent Estate™ Advisors to help you to register.
You can also learn more from and take advantage of our free resources! It’s just one more way we support your journey to financial freedom here at Renters Warehouse DC/NOVA!