What Registrations and Licenses does a Landlord need to rent a Property in DC?

EPGD Law Real Estate Law

Do you need a Business License for Rental Property?

To rent a property in Washington, D.C., a landlord needs a Basic Business License (BBL). The landlord must first obtain the category that their BBL falls into, such as beauty services, health services, or rental housing.

This license can be obtained through an application process, beginning with the corporate registration. If the landlord is operating as a corporate entity, it must be registered as a corporation with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), and may also choose to register a trade name for the company.

Next, a landlord must register with the DC Office of Tax and Revenue, which entails providing a registered tax number and completing a Clean Hands Self-Certification Form. This might mean applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). It also requires submitting an FR-500 form, the Combined Business Tax Registration Application.

The following step for landlords is registration with the Office of the Zoning Administrator through a Certificate of Occupancy (COO) and a Home Occupation Permit (HOP). Upon having completed these steps, landlords then can submit their BBL application through the online DC Business Center Portal with the required documentation and payment of all applicable fees. The application can also be submitted in person or via mail.

Basic Business License D.C.

If a landlord would like to rent out more than one property, a BBL is required for each location. There are various kinds of BBLs that may be required, depending on the kind of building to be rented, such as: a One Family Rental License for single-family homes, town houses, duplexes, individual condominium units or individual rooms; a Two Family Rental License for a basement apartment or converted basement apartment; or an Apartment license for buildings with three or more units.

If the landlord is applying for a One Family Rental License, the property must be registered with the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Rental Accommodations Division (RAD), using the Rental Accommodations Registration Form. The BBL application must be approved and paid for in full before registering the property with RAD.

Alongside the application, the landlord must submit a BBL Self-Certification form. Once the BBL application is approved, the landlord must register the property as subject to (or exempt from) rent control. This is done through the RAD Registration form, which must be submitted with the approved BBL Application to the DCRA Rental Accommodations Division in order to receive the license.

After the BBL license has been issued, the landlord’s property must be inspected by the Inspections and Compliance Administration in accordance with the District’s Inspection Report form. The property must be up to code, otherwise the license may be revoked. Finally, the housing that the landlord seeks to rent out must follow the District’s Housing Regulations. See DCMR, Title 14, Chapter 11.

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Eric Gros-Dubois

Eric P. Gros-Dubois founded EPGD Business Law in 2013 and is the current head of the firm’s corporate, estate planning, and tax practice, and manages the firm’s Washington D.C. office. With a JD and MBA, and a specialization in finance, Eric is able to step back and view the legal world through a commercial lens while also acting as a trusted business advisor for his clients. He does his best to be solutions oriented, and tries to think like a business owner, not just a lawyer.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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