From the Forum – Landlord advice

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Landlord advice:

“I’m renting out my condo starting next month. Trying to navigate the process of getting a BBL. Does anyone know of a good step by step guide? These sites are making my brain hurt.”

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13 Comment

  • I found the site to be fine, but maybe print out the forms and go over them. You’ll need to get tax office to sign off, dcra, and 1 more. There are companies that will do it for you also, so that may be a better option.

  • There are companies that do this sort of thing for you rather inexpensively. Or you can email me and I’ll forward you a guide. ANC2F06 (at)

    • email is 2F06 (at) rather. thanks

    • anonymouse_dianne

      Yes, we are using Rent The District to manage my childhood house. Hannah has been great and taken care of everything including some old paint issues.

  • You can do it. Unfortunately they really don’t spell out the exact order of steps. 1) go to OTR at 1101 4th SW, and get a “clean hands” tax letter. then go across the street and start the paperwork for BL. If I remember correctly they make you pay the cashier first. They probably anticipate quite a few folks not following through so they get their money up front. Wiat in line for at least an hour and then speak to someone, show your OTR letter and recepit of payment. I think I also showed my deed as well. Next step was a trip over the DHCD on MLK blv (not metro accessbile unless you feel like walking over a mile). that only took about 15 min. They certify that you are not subject to rent control. take all that back to 1100 4th street. Then they approve it and then you wait for an an inspector to come your home in a 3 hour window of time. They come, spend 5 min in house and then two weeks later you get a license in the mail. Of course, I am sure this has changed in three years in their effort to “simplify” or add “EZ” to the top of a form.

    • I don’t know about all the other details, but that sound complicated! One thing I’ll mention: it isn’t that hard to get to DHCD by transit. It’s only 0.6 miles from the Anacostia metro station and the P6 bus stops right nearby, as do the 90, 92, and a bunch of other buses.

  • I am pretty sure I got the business license online, paying about $250. The inspector came to check out the apartment. Boom, done.

  • Make sure you have a DC lease that contains a waiver of the notice to quit for unpaid rent.

    Also, make sure you file an exemption from rent control with the housing office.

    Once you rent it, if that tenant misses a payment file in L&T quickly. I’ve had clients lose several months of rent payments b/c the person said they would have it soon. In DC you can pay your past due rent right up to the time the marshals show up so if they really intend to pay, it puts the pressure on them. It might sound harsh, but I assume you have a mortgage to pay.

  • Rent Jiffy. I tried, but it was ridiculous and I have a job. For $400, I got my license. Never had to show up to anything. Great, communicative company. Huge help. And, the $400 is a business expense. So, there ya go. Rent Jiffy all the way. You’re welcome!

  • This is a pretty good post. I followed it to get our basement apt properly ready for rental.

    Prepare yourself to spend a few hours at DCRA.

  • GJ_Realty

    Several of the commenters mention the possibility of using a service for the business license process. Depending on your situation and how much time you have to invest in learning the laws and in leasing and managing your rental, you might want to consider using a property management company. A qualified property management company can not only help you obtain a license, but also can deal with numerous other regulations and processes involved in being a landlord, such as thoroughly vetting the tenants in accordance with local and federal laws, drawing up a lease that protects you, and handling the security deposit appropriately. Bottom line: The know-how required to be a landlord in DC doesn’t end when you obtain a BBL!

    –Thomas Carcone, Gordon James Realty

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