Washington, DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user Kevin Wolf

“Dear Popville,

I have a tenant who is also my roommate in a 2 bedroom condo. I collect rent from her and all is honky dory, I don’t anticipate any issues and I am always fast to resolve maintenance concerns. It has come to my attention that, although I am only renting out one room, and I live in the unit, I still might need a basic business license. This makes no sense to me, as rooming houses (group houses with multiple occupants) do not require a license. I would really like to not do this for a number of reasons. 1. It seems stupid and unfair. 2. It requires an inspection. 99% of my condo is perfectly fine. However, there are grates over the window in the rental bedroom. My building is a registered historical building with the L’Enfant trust and I cannot make changes to the facade without special permission, which I will be unlikely to get in time for the inspection. I know the reason for the grate regulation is to be able to escape in case of a fire, but the bedroom is pretty much right next to the front door, and the window is probably too small and high up for someone to climb through anyway.

So, do I really need a business license? If I chose to not get one, what is the worst case scenario I might face? If I chose to not get one, should I still report rental income to DC?

I could really use some advice! Having had some shitty landlords myself, I am really dedicated to being a good and attentive landlord, but this just seems excessive.”


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