Planning Tips for Preparing Your Home to Be a Rental Unit in DC

Planning Tips for Preparing Your Home to Be a Rental Unit in DC

Do you have a basement apartment you’d like to rent out, or are moving into a new home and want to rent out your old place? It’s important to know that you can’t just have tenants move in—there are certain steps to take to prepare your home to be a rental unit in Washington DC.

These steps will help protect you as the property owner and your tenants as well. Here are a few planning tips when it comes to preparing your home to be a rental property!

Have the Proper Licensure and Registration

You’ll need to have several licenses in order to rent your property in the District of Columbia, including:

Residential Housing License. All rental units must be licensed by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs with what’s called a Residential Housing license. 

The financial penalty for not having the proper license to rent your property is severe, with a first offense being anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 and up. Without this license, you’re also at risk for lawsuits that can arise should a problem happen with your unit or your tenants.

Basic Business License. All landlords need to have a Basic Business License, which can be obtained through the DC Business Center.

Certificate of Occupancy. This would be required if you have a basement or in-law suite that you’re renting out. A Certificate of Occupancy can be obtained through the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. However, you must also have a Basic Business License.

 Registered as either exempt or not exempt from rent control. DC law dictates that landlords must register their properties as either exempt or not exempt from rent control, with common exemptions being:

  • The unit is owned by a person and not a corporation, and that person must not own more than four rental units in DC
  • The unit was built after 1975
  • The unit is federally or district-subsidized

Inspection. When you get the proper licensure for your rental property in DC, you’ll need to have the unit inspected. Without an inspection, your license will be void should an incident occur, and will expose you to legal liability. 

Ensure the Unit Is Rent Ready

After making sure all the legal paperwork is taken care of for your rental unit, it’s time to ensure the actual unit itself is ready to rent. This includes ensuring there’s no peeling paint, that all circuit breakers for electrical outlets are working, and that carbon monoxide alarms are installed if the unit has any gas appliances.

It’s also a good idea to have the unit professionally cleaned, replace the carpet, and check all appliances to be sure everything is working properly. Other items to check include windows and doors, locks, and heating and air conditioning components.

Consider Hiring a Property Manager

It can feel overwhelming to get your unit ready to rent while still maintaining the everyday tasks your role as a landlord will require. At FAS Management, we help you avoid the legal fees that can come with improper registration and ensure your lease is valid to protect you and limit your liability as much as possible!

Contact us to learn more about our professional property management services at (202) 337-5080.


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