Your Input Wanted in Making DCRA Rental Housing Licensing Easier

Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

This morning I received an email from DCRA’s Helder Gil asking if I could ask for readers’ thoughts on how the city could simplify the licensing process for someone looking to rent out their home/condo/basement. I think it’s great DCRA is soliciting feedback like this:

“Dear PoP,

“Generally, we have different license types depending on whether renting out a multi-unit building, a condo unit, an entire house, or a basement. We list the info on requirements here.

We often hear complaints from small landlords about the time and hassles it can take for them to get a rental license from us. Partly that’s because we require the property to pass an inspection before we’ll issue a license. One idea that’s been suggested to us is to issue the license and conduct a property inspection afterwards (we also conduct inspections any time we receive a tenant complaint). I’m interested in gauging people’s reaction to that idea, as well as to try to get other thoughts on how that process could be simplified.”

How would you like to see the process changed?

76 Comment

  • I think conducting the inspection after the license is granted is a great idea.

    The next to last step in getting the license is going to DHCD to register the rental accommodation (then you go back to DCRA to pick up the license). Unfortunately, the DHCD office is located in a different part of town. It would be helpful if there were a DHCD outpost in the DCRA building where you could file the rental accommodation registration form without having to make the trip across the Anacostia.

    • Great idea – even better would be to cut out this second step altogether. Why isn’t it all a one step process? You are filling out almost exactly the same info at DCHD and paying another fee for no apparent purpose. The up front tax registration is also annoying. This should all be a one step process.

      You should also be able to submit all the paperwork online. I just filed this a couple of weeks ago and there is no reason to have to go sit at DCRA for hours just to hand them a form and pay the fee. This would also allow combining the tax registration and DCHD registration into a single step as each agency could receive the parts of the information they need electronically.

      Simplify the instructions and form. These are totally confusing and not easy to find on the website.

      Finally, why do you need a full C of O for a basement, especially when most basements in historic rowhouses don’t meet the full height requirements even if they are safe and clean and would be great for a tennant. it’s not worth the huge expense and time suck of getting a C of O and digging out the basement.

      • Should have added that I’m glad they’re looking into this! Hopefully it will result in some MAJOR changes or people will still not bother to go through this process

      • I concur with the comments about combining the DCHD/RAO/DCRA paperwork steps into a single online fillable form/database. It took a full five months for my paperwork to make it through this process as it was bounced between the DCRA and RAO offices. DCRA wanted the property registered with RAO before they would issue a BBL # and RAO wanted the BBL # before they would register the property so the paperwork remained in limbo for several months.

        Doing the entire process online would raise at least some revenue for the city as landlords who are out of compliance would see the process of coming into compliance as less of a hassle.

        • Hmmm. The entire process for me, start to finish, including C of O, inspection, BBL, etc took 18 days. I did it myself, although I’d consider using a 3rd party in the future. I took a very proactive approach that included calling the agencies to monitor progress.

          • “Pro-active approach” meaning what? 10 hours of your time? 20 hours? More? You did say you’re considering using a 3rd party in the future. How many hours of your time total do you consider reasonable?

          • Maybe 10 hours, not including calls placed several times a week. Say those calls added an hour a week. I’d consider Jiffy Rent or something like it in the future because they’re affordable and it would mean I wouldn’t have to take off work. I mean really, write a check for about $500 and it’s all taken care of — good deal. If you’re hourly, I think they’re the way to go.

  • Conducting the inspection after issuing a license would be a big win-win-win for landlords, tenants, and the DC Gov.

    People go into the landlord buisness to make money. If they are considering buying a piece of property to rent out (or converting an existing basement), each day they are unable to rent the space out due to the licening process or delays is a big fat $ loser and the mortgage is still due each month. Add-in the additional costs of fees, architecural drawings cost, etc and its a big deterrent for people to upgrade housing, start new rentals, or bring a place up to code. (Not to get into the validity of some housing code requirements.)Big deal in a city with such a rental housing need.

    If DCRA would issue the license and then give a reasonable amount of time for the landlord to address the inspection issues, rental income from the property could help to fix those issues. Without that option, places are either flat out not rented out or rented without compliance.

    I for one would be willing to take my hypothetical unregistered units through the process with post-license inspections.

    • I understand your point and I agree that the registration system should be easier (especially since that will cut down on the renting of unregistered buildings), but there are some things (not everything an inspection might uncover, but some things) that are so hazardous that potential LLs shouldn’t be able to get rental income until they’re fixed.

      • oh, also, I 100% agree with the suggestion to put a DHCD outpost at the DCRA office. That outpost should have a computer terminal where people can look at the rent control documents filed for their buildings (ideally, DHCD would just provide online access to those records, but that seems a long way off and not something DCRA could control).

      • Maybe the shouldn’t be able, but they still do. Better to have the issues come to light later rather than never, no?

    • I also disagree with granting provisional licenses. It’s a very bad idea. What if substantial issues are discovered upon inspection? Is the landlord going to have to break his lease, displacing the tenant to begin work? Who wins in that situation? That’s is like saying you want to fast-track metro bus drivers by granting provisional commercial licenses sight unseen. Are you prepared for the negative consequences?

      Plus, it adds another layer of enforcement to the bureaucracy. The system would have to being tracking semi-legal properties, periodically inspect them, fine them if necessary, schedule re-inspections upon failure, etc. Given that DCRA’s budget if anything will be cut (given DC deficit situation), it’s not smart to increase their workload, which this will surely do.

      • That may be true and its a difficult situation for any party to be in, but it doesn’t change the fact that people are still going to rent out that unit under the table and then these issues may never come to light, or will only be discovered after something happens. Which do you prefer?

        • I prefer the inspection take place in a timely manner. If you start putting the cart before the horse, you introduce a host of other problems, including exposing some small time landlords to complex situations. Why make things more complicated, when there’s an obvious less costly alternative: shorten the wait for inspection to 3 – 5 days. If a week’s wait deters a landlord — well, then his protest is nothing but bluster.

  • Make it possible to legalize nice housing that is technically under height limits.

  • I appreciate DCRA soliciting feedback. The process simply has to be changed because it’s nearly impossible to get a C of O for a basement rental in this town.

    First step is explaining – clearly and consistently – what standards the landlord is required to meet. For example, can the fuse box for the entire house, or the hot water heater, be located in the basement? Do the utilities have to be separately metered if the landlord pays all utilities? I’ve gotten different answers to these questions, and my impression is that Mike Rupert’s departure makes it (once again) harder to resolve the situation. (See recent PoP post on whether architectural drawings of the entire house are needed.)

    There are lots of landlords in this town who want to come out of the shadows and license their basement apartments – particularly because of the protections this offers. But the process has seemed impossible up til now.

  • For everybody renting 3 units or less, there should be a single application and fee for the landlord’s license, which can be completed and paid online and is granted presumptively upon payment, which is good for up to 3 properties registered by the landlord. Each rental unit would be subject to individual registration and a subsequent inspection within 6 months of the unit being registered under the landlord’s license. Failed inspections would be given a 60-day window to cure the problems without penalty.

    It’s striking that on that DCRA link there were so many options. I can see treating professional/serial landlords who own multiple properties differently from a licensing standpoint, but there are so many small-time landlords in this town who don’t make their primary living from rental income that there should be some recognition of that class and a highly simplified process. I had a hard time discerning into which category I fell on just the home page. Way too many categories, way too many steps.

  • This landlord has no intention of even approaching DCRA about an inpsection or licence until he is satisfied that DCRA is honest and will us fairly.

    I recently purchased a rowhome with an unbelievably nice basement rental. High ceilings (8 feet easy), three direct exits to the outside (bedroom, living room, kitchen), crown moldings, modern kitchen, bath, etc. As nice an english basement as you’ll find in this city, I’m quite sure of that. Separate controls for gas heat to keep the tenants warm, and a separate subpanel for the tenant’s electric. But there’s one problem: the main electric panel is also located in the basement rental, which means that should we ever trip a circuit breaker or need to shut off the electric upstairs we need to impose on the tenant — who couldn’t care less.

    I’ve been advised that, because of this “defect,” we wouldn’t pass inpsection without moving the main electric panel upstairs, at a cost of several thousand dollars — not to mention any other costs of bringing us into compliance that a whimsical inspector might find.

    Alternatively, the agent who sold us the house has advised, we could hire a “facilitator,” also at a cost of several thousand dollars, and guarantee smooth sailing through the inspection and licencing process without exposing ourselves to the whims of particular inspectors. We were told that it is standard practice in DC to hire “facilitators.”

    Sounds like graft to me, and I want no part of it.

    • sorry for the typos in the first paragraph. i mean will “treat” us fairly, obviously. i’m just very frustrated by the DCRA ordeal.

      • I have the same exact problem with my row home – fuse box, boiler, and hot water heater are all in the basement. Otherwise, completely up to code and gorgeous.

        Frankly, if a facilitator could ensure they would get my basement legal for several thousand dollars, I’d pay it. What a shame.

        • It just makes no sense to me that, in order to pass inspection for a basement apartment, fully functioning and well cared for “hardware” (like the electrical panel, boiler, and hot water heater) cannot be located in a place where the landlord can only access them by entering the tenant’s space. So long as the right to reasonable access is provided for in the lease, what exactly is the problem?

          It is this kind of tedious regulations that keeps good people like me underground.

  • The main issue I see with the license before inspection is that landlords rent their place but during inspection dcra decided something major have to be done. Tenants will be displaced or inconvienienced. This being tenant friendly city, tenants will be happy to sue the landlord for renting them a place that was not inspected housing.

  • If they were serious about improving things for landlords, they’d make it easier to evict deadbeats.

  • Do away with re-inspections of properties that have current C of Os. Example: I recently purchased a row home in Capitol Hill that has an English Basement with a current C of O signed in August of 2010.

    Now I have to call DCRA, re-submit an application and have them re-inspect the basement simply because the property changed hands in January 2011. I understand the application for the issuance of a new certificate, but a re-inspection screams government waste and a desire to collect more of my money.

    • Totally agree – have the exact same problem.

    • +1

      In addition, don’t require an inspection if you already have a C of O in your name. When I bought my house, I got the C of O because I wanted to be legal. That was before the new requirements of a business license, additional inspection, etc., were enacted. I can’t bear the thought of going through it all over again — when I got the C of O, I had to have 3 different inspectors and each of them did not show up for the first appointment so it took many days of taking off work to get it done. If someone already has a C of O, it should be a quick online process to get the license.

  • 1. Establish a license exclusively for homeowners renting out up to 2 apartments within their home.

    Have 2 classes of this licenses – BOTH require essential safety features – two means of egress, smoke & CO2 detectors, proper wiring etc. but “Class B” allows for such things as lower ceiling height, a shared breaker box, even shared laundry.

    These would be strictly market classifications. A renter would know upfront if s/he is seeing a “Class A” or “Class B” apt.

    2. Establish a clear checklist of the required safety features.

    3. Landlord gets this checklisk online or by mail.

    4. Landlord gets application for license online or by mail. This license requires only proof of ownership and proof of insurance. Landlord summits application online or by mail to DCRA.

    5. DCRA has 10 days to check landlord’s tax records, proof of ownership & insurance.

    6. During that 10 day period, the physical inspection of the apartment is made by a professional hired by the homeowner’s INSURANCE COMPANY. (Who has a higher stake in insuring the safety of a rental apartment?)

    DCRA DOES NOT conduct the physical inspection of the apartment.

    7. The independent insurance inspector certifies that all the safety items on the checklist are complete. S/he submits photos, measurements etc. to qualify for Class A or B license.

    8. Upon this submission, by certified letter, immediate provisional certification for C of O is granted by DCRA.

    9. If no defects are reported to DCRA by the tenant within six months, the license becomes permanent.

    10. After DCRA issues permanent license, they may still be called in by a tenant at any time to examine the property for specific violations of the safety requirements.

    11. Eliminate the redundant Basic Business license application. The C of O application already includes all the same information.

    I as a landlord would expect to pay around $300-500 for the private inspection, and an initial certification fee to DC of up to $500.00. After that a yearly renewal fee (tax) of $2-300.00 to DC.

    12. DC govt. makes a boatload of money from all the new landlords who are eager to comply with a license but never will under the current Kafkaesque system.

    13. More desperately needed rental apartments are available and tenants are safer.

  • LOWER THE MINIMUM CEILING HEIGHT REQUIREMENT! I am about to put $15-20K into making my basement 99% compliant with DCRA code (and going above and beyond with additional noise-dampening and fire-retardant materials) but I will never be able to register it with DCRA as long as the ceiling minimum is SEVEN FEET. Even giving us 3-6 more inches to work with will exponentially increase the number of homeowners who can then be legally compliant.

    Otherwise, the choice between a $25K+ basement dig out ( and legal compliance is easy…no license.

    • Just call it an in-law suite and you won’t have to worry about the District.

      Also, it DOES NOT cost 25K to do a basement dig out. I am currently underpinning AND excavating mine for under 20K. The excavation alone is about 5-10K (which inclides demolition, hauling, gravel and new concrete slab) for an extra 1.5ft of space. It’s a tough pill to swallow at first, but honestly worth EVERY penny when considering the additional rent you’ll make in the end!

      • Chris…under $20K for the entire dig out, with 5-10K going towards the excavation. I am curious…what else gets you up to 20K? Thanks for the info.

      • Chris,

        Would you mind posting the contact info for the contractor doing your dig-out and underpinning? I think they could get a lot of business at that price with a little free advertising.


  • We own a condo in downtown DC, and when we relocated out of the area last year we decided to keep the condo and rent it out since we plan on returning to DC.

    The process for getting a rental license was ridiculous, costing us hundreds of dollars and at least 15-20 hours of our time, and we still don’t have a license. (But we do have a paying tenant!) We opted not to go with one of the “facilitators” since that just seemed like a way to gouge people; in retrospect I would have gladly paid twice the price or more to not waste my time and be guaranteed a license in the end.

    Issuing a license prior to inspection would be a huge help, but as others have mentioned here, the DCHD step is also quite onerous. Only after I applied for, paid for, and received a business license, filed a tax registration application, and traveled across the river to the DCHD offices, was I informed that we were not eligible for a rent control exemption because we had registered the business as a partnership rather than a sole proprietorship. Luckily my building was built after 1975 (another exemption category), so I was able to sweet talk the ladies at DCHD to let me amend my rent control exemption application to file under that.

    But then the inspection took forever to schedule, we couldn’t make it one time, and then rescheduling took another several weeks and we were eventually told we had passed the time limit available for an inspection and would have to start over.

    Seriously? After wasting all that time, and learning that 95% of our former neighbors who rent their place out don’t have a license (with no repercussions, mind you), why would we continue to go through the expense and hassle? I feel like we were punished for trying to do the right thing.

    I generally don’t mind government regulation, and I think licensing landlords is a good goal. But the process around this definitely seems geared towards graft and those with connections, which is unfortunate since we little guys pay taxes too.

    • You knew how long it takes to schedule an inspection, and you didn’t make it? That’s your fault. If you had shown up, you would have a license now.

      But agreed that scheduling should be less onerous. You should be able to get your first inspection within a week. Why the backlog?

      • @Tres, they actually cancelled my first inspection, and I was unable to make it to the rescheduled inspection. Sometimes stuff comes up, you know? I’m not a professional landlord who can just sit around all day every day waiting for DCRA inspectors to show up. And if they can cancel and reschedule, why can’t I? I’m the one paying all the money, right?

        You’re correct that if I had been able to show up for that rescheduled inspection, I would likely have my license by now (if they didn’t find any issues, that is). But I thought the point of this thread was to give DCRA suggestions on how to improve the process, not assign blame to landlords who have a scheduling conflict with an inspection appointment.

  • Stories like the one from one-unit landlord leave no doubt in my mind that I’m better off just taking my chances as an illegal landlord.

  • I just had my home inspection (the last step toward getting the license) on Monday. I have to admit that it was far less painful than I imagined!

    Full disclosure: I used Rent Jiffy to handle the BBL paperwork and actual filing, but it was WELL worth it. They answered all my questions and their fee includes all the filing charges – I filled out one form of basic information, and Rent Jiffy completed the DCRA forms and processed the paperwork on my behlaf. They also provided the official inspection checklist so I knew what to expect and they gave me the option of using their services on the day of the inspection ($50). All I had to do was wait for DCRA to call me to make the appointment – which they did!

    When the DC government was closed on January 27, an inspector kindly called me to let me know they would be rescheduling my inspection. (which saved me waiting around all day)

    On the day of the (rescheduled) inspection, I received a call at 8:50AM to let me know that someone would be at my home between 11-12:30. He showed up at 11:45 and was done in less than five minutes; he followed the checklist verbatim, so there were no surprises. He was kind and efficient.

    As a first-time landlord, I am suprised and impressed. And I recommend Rent Jiffy to anyone navigating this process!

  • -Clear instructions written at a level any HS graduate can comprehend. Maybe w/ a checklist.

    -Option to hire an independent inspector.

    – Clear process with no last minute gotchas.

    Maybe add a flow chart to help different kinds of landlords ( the condo owner, the English basement LL, the LL renting out a whole house, LL renting out part/duplex etc) decide how to get through the system.

    Also be clear and open.

  • Oh nevermind. I see they’ve updated their website since I quit the LL biz and have something clearly and simply written for different types of dwellings.

  • Every potential renter who has seen my basement immediately said they wanted to live there. They’re happy and I’m happy. There is no need to get the DCRA involved to screw us all.

    Stop treating tenants like children who don’t know what’s best for them. Nobody stops people from making ill-advised housing purchases, but we assume that renters are gullible and defenseless.

    • +1000, where was DCRA when I purchased my lemon house.

      • Where was your home inspector?

        The reason why landlords are regulated is that they are legally responsible for someone else’s life. Cab may be a good landlord — the regulations are for the bad ones. Unless renters start hiring home inspectors before signing a lease, they will never be as informed as owners.

        • Tres, here’s my problem: there’s a way to do this that gives tenants protections without creating a blanket regulatory regime that just doesn’t work. In the interest of protecting a few tenants, you over-regulate the many tenants and landlords for whom a simple contract (the lease) and access to a specific judicial system (landlord-tenant court) would be sufficient to govern the relationships between the parties.

          What would be the problem with a simplified process in which inspections as a matter of course were done away with, small-scale landlords were granted a license based on payment of a licensing fee and online registration of their units into a tenant-accessible database available online, and any tenant complaint automatically prompted a DCRA inspection? That would be simple enough, would afford tenants protections, and would probably encourage a lot of renegade landlords to register properly with DCRA, which in turn would make enforcement easier. There are ways to do this that protect tenants, recognize that 95% of landlord-tenant relationships are fine w/o DCRA’s involvement, and create far less burden on landlords.

          • The system you describe currently exists — it’s exactly how gray rental market functions today, with the one exception that DCRA does not have an inventory of all active rental properties. Any tenant can already make a complaint to DCRA about any legal or illegal rental and it’s inspected.

            What incentive does DCRA have to adopt the policies of the gray market?

          • What incentive does DCRA actually have? If they believe in actual tenant protections: having a more accurate and up-to-date database listing accountable landlords and where they can be located for things like service of process. If they just want more revenue: fees. A simplified system along the lines I outline would, I imagine, be more than enough to motivate a lot of gray market participants to come out of the shadows and get in line with regs.

            As it is, they’ve set up an onerous and complicated system for which they have very little enforcement capacity, which is why the gray market exists now. I harbor no delusions that the status quo won’t continue to prevail, because that’s just how DC works, but it makes very little sense to me.

          • Also, I’ve got to note: I don’t really care what incentive DCRA has to change the status quo. It’s not an independent, private party and this isn’t a negotiation. It’s a government agency that should work well for tenants, consumers, landlords, and taxpayers in the District. Collectively, we should hope that where we choose to regulate for the benefit of District residents, it actually works. Just putting a structure in place that is routinely subverted and thereby rendered impotent really accomplishes nothing.

        • Onerous, intrusive & Kafkaesque regulations ultimately endanger far more tenants. Because they prevent good landlords from become legal, the few really bad ones are simply lost in the mix.

  • Yes, that was the form the inspector used. He literally said to me “Is your smoke detector hard wired? Where is the fire extinguisher?” He ran the hot water in the kitchen and washroom, signed “pass”, and left. Literally five minutes.

    I paid Rent Jiffy $399, but that inclues all the filing fees DC requires. They were so kind and walked me through the entire process beforehand. I then completed Rent Jiffy’s one-page intake form, and they used that info to fill out the DC forms for me (rent control, DCRA, etc). They know their stuff and had filed my paperwork in one day – I had my BBL number that evening! They surely saved me the 15-20 hours previous posters wasted navigating the multiple agencies in the DC bureaucracy, so I definitely got my money’s worth. Highly recommend to anyone!

    • I’d hire Rent Jiffy tomorrow to register my English basement if they assured me I don’t need to move the main electrical panel out of the apartment. I don’t see anything about this being a requirement on the damned checklist!

  • First, kudos to DCRA for reaching out.
    Having said that, when I purchased last summer, my top level was converted into a one bedroom apt but the utilities were not split.  It is unclear to me what hoops I need to jump through in order to make it legal and at what cost.  Do I need a second egress for the top floor?  Do the utilities have to be split?  I have spent numerous amounts of time researching this issue on the internet and have not found any definitive answers. 
    This blog has recommended architects to do drawings and hiring folks to expediate the permiting process.  The apt within the house pre-dates my ownership, why do I have to get an architect?  The whole process seems communist, inefficient, expensive and discouraging.
    When I am ready to rent it, if the cost (additional renovation/permits) to go thru DCRA exceeds the marginal legal benefit, I will rent it under the table.
    Screw DC and their $175 M deficit

    • Does your top level apartment have a completely separate entrance? If not – DCRA has no idea how to even classify it. I called them several times – I explained it was an apartment in a house where I live – people come through the main house – so more like a group house.

      Their response – “A group house? Like for mentally retarded people?”

      “No, like roommates – but their own apartment.”
      “A rooming house?”
      “No.” (The rooming house definitions are pretty clear and specific on their website.)

      They were completely unable to understand anything.

      • Wha wha wha whaaat?

        I have lived in DC for five years. Of everyone I know, young and old, in school or professional worker bee, not a single one has ever NOT lived in a “group house.”

        How the hell else do they define it – let alone not know the popular lexicon?!

        This alone is reason enough to tear DCRA down and rebuild from scratch. It’s hopeless!

        • Remember that most city employees come from a very different background & culture than you do. “Group House” is not the ordinary arrangement you or I have experience with.

          • Yes, but also remember that DC does not entirely encompass “their” worldview.

            THEY are the ones working in an office representing the GOVERNMENT which I, ostentatiously, have been paying taxes and voting for for five years now. THEY get to come to MY world because THEY are getting paid for it.

            Ignorance is not an excuse if their job is to serve all of DC and not just the microcosm that they grew up in.

            It’s not an uppity, gentrifier or NW “closeminded” opinion – its fact. If THEY get to impose laws and penalties on ME then it us up to THEM to understand the landscape and circumstances in which THEY are operating and regulating.

            Not too difficult.

  • Online application, payment, and inspection scheduling.

    Give 2 hour windows for the inspection.

    Make it so that we never have to go to DCRA and wait in line. Don’t make us wait around all day for the inspector to show up.

  • I’ve been following this debate all day. POP – I hope DCRA is following equally closely and can answer the questions raised here.

    • god yes!!!!

      • Wish in one hand, sh*t in the other – and see which one fills up first.

        I see this thread, I read the same questions over and over and over that appear every time DCRA pretends to care, and yet no one EVER bothers to do anything about them.

        Call me a negative Nancy but I have no faith that this will go anywhere. Prove me wrong DCRA.

        • Agree. And, again, harping on the electrical panel issue: there’s nothing on the checklist that requires it, yet DRCA is on record on rentmybasement that they do. Why? You know full well that if you get the right inspector in your place — meaning if you go through a “facilitator” — they’re going to simply pull out the check list posted above, checked “passed” for each item, and you’re golden. But if you don’t, you’re going to get screwed.

          DCRA, answer this one simple question for me. If the tenant agrees that the landlord can enter his apartment to flip a circuit breaker, what is the problem? What??


  • I have nothing new to add to the mix other than to say this:


    I am college educated, law-abiding and eager to come into the light but I will be damned if I am going to go through what everyone else here seems to have gone through. Not. A. Chance. In. Cold. Dark. Hell.

    *maybe I’m telling the truth, maybe not, but this statement is purely fiction. Maybe.

  • It took two years, twenty phone calls, four faxes of 15 pages, and an e-mail to my councilman to get DC to transfer the water bill into my name for the house I own. It took over ninety days and seven phone calls for the city to inspect my new electrical box and service entry. There is no way I trust the city to inspect my home for a Cert. of Occ. Not going to happen.

  • Oops – just occurred to me that it is highly likely that no one in DCRA actually knows what “Kafkaesque” actually means.

    • Fkng Cock-a-roach.


    • To sarcasticlly quote someone above who clearly doesn’t understand “Government for the people” I say to you this:

      “Remember that most city employees come from a very different background & culture than you do.”

  • saf

    Rental housing is not my issue with DCRA. Permitting of other sorts is.

    The fact is, it is a systemic problem and until the rot is rooted out, standards are clear and DOCUMENTED and PUBLICLY AVAILABLE, DCRA is indeed Kafkaesque. It’s not just rental licenses. It’s everything that goes through DCRA.

  • DCRA, here is one thing I might help out. If you could offer people the option of leaving coded key boxes and the necessary paperwork for the inspector, that would really help you inspect a lot more units.

    I know that one of the reasons why you’re so slow sometimes, is that demand for inspections is chaotic: some days almost no one is trying to book inspections, other days it seems like you have half the inspectors you need to handle the requests coming in. If on a slow day with few inspections scheduled, you knew you had 20 properties with key boxes left out for inspectors, then you could use the down time to clear that backlog of units. This would make your busier days less busy, because of the work done earlier on units with key boxes.

    The great thing for owners who used the key boxes is that their inspection would happen ASAP. Neither of you would have to worry about the other party canceling appointments. And the inspector wouldn’t have any wasted time on his daily itinerary: he’d always have another property to see. Hopefully, this would make things a lot more efficient, and put your limited budget to maximal use.

  • Thanks to PoP for posting this.

    And thanks to everyone for their thoughts on how we can simply the licensing process, while also ensuring tenants’ safety. We greatly appreciate the input, and we will be using it as we make some changes in the licensing process.

    Our goal is to make it so that an applicant can submit and pay for everything online, thereby saving themselves a trip to our lovely Southwest Waterfront offices. However, in an environment of shrinking budgets, resources are greatly limited and it may take some time for us to implement all our license simplification ideas.

    If you have specific questions regarding your own rental license situation, you can email me at Helder [dot] Gil at DC {dot} gov and I’ll route it to the folks that can get you the right answer.

    And if you’re being told by any sort of “facilitators” that they can “guarantee” that you pass a housing inspection, please refer those claims to the DC Inspector General at 202-724-TIPS. No facilitator can claim such a guarantee.

    And yes, we do know what “Kafkaesque” means, although my personal opinion is that The Metamorphisis was far more interesting than the unfinished The Trial.

    Helder Gil

    • saf

      So, are you willing to talk about specific problems with construction permitting too?

    • Thanks for reading Helder – (and I agree on The Metamorphisis) You’ve got hundreds of potentially legal landlords eagerly waiting for reform.

      And since, as you pointed out, we are in “an environment of shrinking budgets, where resources are greatly limited,” You have even more reason to let landlords hire outside professional licensed home inspectors to do the inspections.

      This would free up your office to expedite the entire process.

    • Helder,

      It would be a gesture of good faith if you answered the questions raised in this post. That would demonstrate far more about your commitment to simplifying the licensing process than commentary on Kafka.

      • There have been many different questions in this post, a good number of which would depend on the specifics of the situation.

        I’m not monitoring this post or this blog on a regular basis, so I don’t want people to think their questions are being ignored. But my email is listed, people can contact me, and I’ll do my best to get them an accurate response as fast as possible.

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