Ready to Get Licensed?
Here is the fact sheet for what you need to do to license your basement apartment. Below is step-by-step information on how to apply for a basement rental business license. This process can have additional steps depending upon whether or not your property is approved for certificate of occupancy. For example, you may need to get building permits for work to come into compliance with building codes. Please let us know if you have additional questions.
If you plan to operate as anything other than a sole properietor, you will need to first register as a business with the Corporate Registration Division. Please see special instructions below. If you plan to operate as a sole proprietor, there is no need to register with this division.
STEP ONE: Office of Tax & Revenue (OTR) Registration
Before applying for your BBL, you’ll also need to register your business with OTR and submit a copy of your tax registration certificate with your application. If you’re not already registered, simply complete and file a Combined Business Tax Registration Application (Form FR500). You get all the necessary forms and submit your application online at the Business Tax Service Center. For more information, please call the Tax Customer Center at (202) 727-4829.
STEP TWO: Clean Hands Certification
You’ll also need to certify that you don’t owe more than $100 to the District of Columbia government as a result of fees, penalties, interest, or taxes through completion of a Clean Hands form provided in your BBL application package.
STEP THREE: Certificate of Occupancy / Compliance for Zoning Regulations
Before applying for your BBL, you’ll need a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) for the location where your business is conducted to demonstrate that your business does not conflict with building and zoning codes. If you have any questions about Certificates of Occupancy, please call the Zoning Administrator at (202) 442-4589 or go here.
STEP FOUR: Basic Business License Application
To make sure you get your BBL as quickly as possible, you must submit a properly completed BBL EZ Form. All of your responses should be printed clearly in English.
STEP FIVE: DHCD Rent Control Registration
You must register the rental unit(s) with the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Rental Accommodations Division (RAD) at 1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20020 as required by the Rental Housing Act of 1985. You will need to complete and attach a Rent Control Registration Form along with the Basic Business License Application or visit DHCD to submit forms and payment. You’ll have to pay a $43.00 RAO fee, per unit, per two-year period in addition to the license, application, and endorsement fees.
RAD transmits the filed RAD Registration/Claim of Exemption Form to DCRA. If the RAD Registration / Claim of Exemption Form is for a 3+ rental unit housing accommodation and filed with RAD by 12 noon, the BBL can be picked up at DCRA by 4:30 pm the same day. In all other instances, the BBL will be mailed to the customer, or can be picked up by the customer at a later date.
For more information on the regulation of rental housing and the Rental Housing Act of 1985, or to obtain a copy of the Tenant Guide to Safe and Decent Housing, please call the DHCD’s Housing Services Center at (202) 442-4477.
NOTE: You must complete the DCRA Licensing Application, Certificate of Occupancy Application and the tax registration process before going to DHCD.
STEP SIX: DCRA Housing Inspection
A housing inspection approval is required prior to the issuance of this license. After your application is submitted, the DCRA Inspections Division will schedule an appointment time to inspect the premise for compliance to housing codes. Please see the checklist to help you prepare for this inspection.