5 Things to Know Before Becoming a Landlord in Washington, DC

5 Things to Know Before Becoming a Landlord in Washington, DC

Are you considering becoming a landlord in Washington, DC?

It could be a great decision for you, but there are some key things to keep in mind before you get started. No matter how familiar you are with being a landlord, or the regulations in DC, there’s no harm in making sure that you’re as well-informed as possible.

Keep reading on to find out our top five things to know.

1. Necessary Licenses and Registrations

When becoming a landlord in DC, there’s going to be a fair bit of paperwork to go through.

First, you should get a Basic Business License (BBL) for a one-family rental. Once the fee is paid and the application is approved, you’ll receive a license that will last for two years. Then, get the property inspected within 45 days of receiving it.

You’ll also need to register your business with the Office of Tax and Revenue and register the property at the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Rental Accommodations Division.

2. Be Aware of Housing Discrimination Laws

The Human Rights Law in the area covers housing discrimination, so it’s important to be mindful of the legislation in place.

It’s illegal to discriminate against families with children — legally, two occupants per bedroom plus one more are allowed, so a two-bedroom property could have two adults and three children. Alternatively, of course, your tenants could be five young adults.

You can’t discriminate against somebody who has no source of income to pay the rent either, providing that somebody else can cover the payment. If a relative of the tenant co-signs the lease, you can’t reject them on that basis.

3. Work Out Your Target Market

When renting out a property, you’ll need to know as much as possible about the area’s rental market. What does real estate in the DMV look like?

Look at similar properties on rental websites, checking out their size, storage, parking, outdoor space, and what’s nearby. How will you layout the property, what features will you include, and how will you settle on pricing? Nomadic Real Estate can help with pricing if you’re unsure where to begin.

4. Know Your Responsibilities

You should charge just one month’s rent as a security deposit, holding the funds in an interest-bearing account in a DC financial institution — after the lease, you’ve got 45 days to either return it or let the tenant know in writing that you’re withholding it.

Your tenant must receive a copy of DC Municipal Regulations, CDCR Title 14, Housing at the start of the tenancy, and you should inform them about fire safety, indoor mold, and other housing code violations, to protect both your rights and the tenant’s. 

5. Familiarize Yourself With Eviction Procedures

How can you legally evict a tenant if it comes to it? 

You’ll have to give the Court at least one legal reason, and you can check out the Landlord Tenant Resource Center at the DC Superior Court for more information. It’s illegal to remove the tenant’s belongings, change the locks or force a tenant out by yourself — you generally need to give them a 30-day notice to vacate the property.

Fire a lawsuit against the tenant in order to receive a ‘judgment for possession’ to evict them, and the US Marshals Service must be present when the eviction is taking place.

Becoming a Landlord in DC

When you’ve familiarized yourself with these steps, you should be well-placed to become a landlord in DC. Becoming a landlord is simple once you know what you’re doing, so why not get the ball rolling today?

For more advice like the tips above, be sure to check out the rest of our posts.