UrbanTurf Reader Asks: How Do You Legally Rent Out a Second Bedroom?

by UrbanTurf Staff

In this installment of UrbanTurf Reader Asks, a reader interested in renting out the second bedroom of his home inquires to see if he needs a license or certificate in order to do so legally. I own a two-bedroom unit and recently started thinking about renting out the second bedroom (it has been used as an office for a few years). I know that a Certificate of Occupancy is needed to legally rent out an English basement or lower-level unit that is part of a house, but if I am renting out just a second bedroom, is there a specific license that I need or process that I have to go through in order for it to be "legit"? Post your neighborhood suggestions in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for UrbanTurf Reader Asks, send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

See other articles related to: urbanturf reader asks, dclofts, amateur landlord

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_how_do_you_legally_rent_out_a_second_bedroom/4285


  1. Nellie said at 4:43 pm on Tuesday October 4, 2011:

    I have the same question, but in my situation, it would be renting two bedrooms in a three bed house.

  1. david said at 5:33 pm on Tuesday October 4, 2011:

    I think you still need to get a cert of occupancy.

  1. Jonathan said at 6:01 pm on Tuesday October 4, 2011:

    Actually, neither a license or certificate of occupancy is needed. This scenario is actually considered a rooming house. Under District law a person may house up to three unrelated people in a single property before an actual license is needed. These people must be sharing all living space and one kitchen. Since no license is needed the requirement for a COO is not needed either. However, the fire code does come into play which it does dictate that no more than a certain number of people may occupy a given space based on the number of bedrooms.

    Keep in mind a rooming house is for a one-unit property so an English basement unit would not qualify. In-law suites would apply to this BUT an in-law may not have a separate entrance, be divided from the rest of the house or have its own separate cooking facilities.

    I would highly recommend consulting an attorney before engaging in such a scenario. Landlord/Tenant law in the District is quite tough but most importantly skewed to the tenant. In addition that part of Landlord/Tenant law is very different from what is usually discussed with regards to Tenants and the law. An attorney would allows you to decide whether the scenario may or may not be in your best interest from a legal perspective. Most importantly you need to make sure your lease is structured appropriately as any normal lease whether from a Realtor or boilerplate would not best address your situation. A good real estate attorney would be best able to help you here too.

    Good luck!

  1. Jonathan said at 6:12 pm on Tuesday October 4, 2011:

    One follow-up item: FR-500/Tax Registration.

    I’d also suggest you consult a tax advisor too. You are supposed to register with the Tax and Revenue by way of the FR-500 Combined Business Tax Registration as the District sees what you are doing as a business despite not needing the license.

    By registering the FR500 you would need to declare the rental income via the D-30 tax form as opposed to your regular DC Personal Tax forms on April 15.

    If you collect under $12,000 in gross income then you would not owe taxes. If you collect over $12,000 then the form is a schedule form which allows you to back out expenses relating to the rental. The tax rate is 9.95% with a minimum tax of $100. A tax adviser would be best able to determine your tax implications given your scenario.

  1. Janson said at 9:36 am on Wednesday October 5, 2011:

    You rock out! I didn’t ask the question but definitely appreciate the suggestions about where to research.

Comments are closed.

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