Register This: Know the Legal Issues of Renting your DC Property
Are you moving out of your Washington, DC apartment or considering jumping on the profitable Airbnb bandwagon? Given the transient nature of the District of Columbia, a rental property can be a wise investment. In the last few years, the high annual gross rental yields in the District have encouraged home owners to rent out their apartments once they upgrade to a new home or move out of state.
Unfortunately, renting a home in DC is not as easy as putting up a quick coat of paint and listing the property online. Landlords must comply with the regulations set out by DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), and if they rent a property without complying with these complex regulations, they are breaking the law and can face significant fines.
There are several things you must do before you even list your property, even if it’s only a basement or a spare room in your house. First, you may need to obtain a certificate of occupancy depending on what type of property you own. Second, you must obtain a housing business license. Third, you need to have your property inspected to make sure it meets DC’s criteria for a rentable home. Last, you must file a registration or claim of exemption from the Rent Stabilization Program (rent control). This requires determining if your property is subject to rent control or if you are exempt. Those who are not exempt must calculate their prospective rental income.
To make matters more complicated, diligent prospective landlords should perform background checks on potential tenants and have a thorough lease drafted to ensure liability protection and to allow them to legally raise the rent. Additionally, a solid umbrella insurance policy should be purchased to cover the property should there be an accident during the lease period.
Some virtual businesses have offered do-it-yourself kits to landlords; however they can’t perform the job of an attorney. To safeguard yourself and your property from liability, and to ensure that all of your work is filled our properly, contact an attorney who understands the pitfalls of renting property in the District.
If you are excited about the prospect of rental income, but the thought wading through the red tape of the DC bureaucracy is unsettling, consider calling Bergstrom Attorneys. From your lease to DC licenses, we will file all the proper paperwork and jump the legal hurdles for you. We can also assist you with any problems you have with your current rental, from eviction to legally raising your rent.