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Rental Business License

DC Business License

If you are a landlord with residential rental unit located in the District of Columbia you are required to have a business license and to register with the Rental Accommodations Division. Luckily, our company provides this service for a fee so that you don’t have to spend your valuable time learning all of the ins and outs of this process. By successfully procuring many of our client’s business licenses we were able to learn what works best and make the process efficient. If you hire us all you need to do is answer a few simple questions and provide us with a few original signatures.

City Fees

The District of Columbia has an application fee for the business license that depends on the number of rental units at that address.

Single family, including condo units –$198.00
Two-family rental –$283.80
Three-unit apartment – $453.20
Four-unit apartment – $508.20

Fees to CPM

Columbia Property Management charges a fee to coordinate getting your business license. We will explain the process to you, supply the forms, show you where to sign, conduct a site visit to evaluate the unit, advise you as to what repairs are needed to pass the mandatory inspection, visit the different agencies on your behalf, and meet the inspector at the property. This is much more than other companies will do for you!

Before we submit the documentation to the city, we will make sure that your rental does not require structural changes or major improvements so that you can make a sound business decision. By our estimates, which have been confirmed by real clients, you will spend 6-8 hours with this process if you do it on your own. Why should you face that learning curve for a one- time event when we can do it for you more efficiently?

Our fees vary depending on the number of rental units at that address.

Single family, condo units –$600 stand-alone or $400 for our Management Clients
Two-family rental –$800 stand-alone or $600 for our Management Clients
Three-unit apartment –$1000 stand-alone or $800 for our Management Clients

For four our more unit apartment buildings, contact us.

NOTE: A valid Certificate of Occupancy is needed for 2 units or more per address. If none is on record, we will advise you of other third-party services who can help.


To be able to submit an application for the business license the owner may not owe the District Government more than $100 or have any outstanding tax returns not filed or registered. This must be resolved before proceeding with the application process.

If you don’t presently have a Certificate of Occupancy you will need the document to be issued before applying for your business license (needed only for 2 units or more). Sometimes a Zoning inspection is required prior to issuing the Certificate of Occupancy, or C of O. Having a C of O issued in the last ten years re-issued with the current owners name won’t require a Zoning inspection and the city fee is approximately $85. Depending on the circumstances with the property, Columbia Property Management may be able to assist you with obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy, or we will refer you to a company who can.

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Your rental unit must be maintained. Repairs or improvements may be needed in the rental in order to pass the mandatory safety inspection on the first try. We strive to have properties comply before applying for the business license on your behalf to ensure it will pass. We base our standards on the years of experience we have and the most common pitfalls that cause an inspection to fail Our pre-inspection is a “best effort” review. A sample of the items that are inspected are:

  • Hard-wired smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level (interconnected to the house electric).
  • Window or ventilation in kitchen and bathrooms
  • GFCI outlets in kitchen and bathrooms (outlets with the reset button)
  • Keyless locks on all exit doors and security gates
  • Emergency escape egress from all sleeping areas (door or window)
  • No peeling or chipping paint
  • No holes in walls, floors, or ceilings
  • Hot water heater, heating and central air conditioning are in good working order.
  • Recent hot water installations must include an expansion tank

Our company can help coordinate removing deficiencies such as these that risk causing your rental unit to fail the inspection. A formal proposal will be made and you can decide if you wish to move forward. We can also refer you to contractors and other companies for larger jobs.

An image of the large tower taken in the evening

Your rental unit must be structurally able to pass inspection. If it is not a legal two-family flat it will have to pass inspection as a single family dwelling. If you rent the basement separately, contact us. Each case is unique depending on the structure of the home and we will need additional information and possibly a site visit to determine if we can help you with the business license.

We would be grateful to count you as a client for our DC Business License service.  Complete the form below to provide some basic information about the rental you wish to have licensed. We will follow up via email or phone to ask a few additional questions about the property and to provide you with next steps.

What People Are Saying About Us

Sep 8, 2020
Columbia Property Management Hafez
Thanks for working with Me during this Covid quarantine epidemic. As you know I’m a union stagehand and on unemployment until our industry is able to get back to theatre and events. I paid up until this month and praying this stimulus package is signed so I can catch up again.
Sep 8, 2020
Google Columbia Property Management Brian
Positive: Professionalism
Sep 3, 2020
Columbia Property Management Naresh
I am happy with the services.
Sep 3, 2020
Columbia Property Management Ken
CPM makes renting a seamless process and excellent portals for paying rent and tracking any maintenance concerns.
Aug 28, 2020
Columbia Property Management John
Thank you for a great rental experience. Everything from billing to maintenance to check-in and check-out went well and positively and made for an easy time residing in DC
Aug 23, 2020
Columbia Property Management Emmmanuel
Worked with Scott's team at two different locations. They have always been reactive, responsive, and solving problems (one of which was a recurrent flooding issue during heavy rains, which no longer happened after action was taken). And they're nice people too.
Aug 20, 2020
Google Columbia Property Management Damion
Positive: Professionalism, Quality, Responsiveness, Value
Aug 15, 2020
Google Columbia Property Management Ashley
Positive: Professionalism
Aug 10, 2020
Google Columbia Property Management Cornelia-Adriana
Profesional, responsive, good value! I rented an apartment with CPM for eleven months in Washington DC. Perfect location, in Foggy Bottom, near Potomac River Walking Path and a few bloks away from the White House. I moved to DC from Europe …More Profesional, responsive, good value! I rented an apartment with CPM for eleven months in Washington DC. Perfect location, in Foggy Bottom, near Potomac River Walking Path and a few bloks away from the White House. I moved to DC from Europe and I was extremely excited to be able to move in the apartment just two or three days after applying - so quick!. Everything was excellent during the entire stay in the apartment. Scott Blum and his team were very responsive. I was extremely happy that I was able to extend the rent for another month, as I was not able to move out at the date scheduled originally -- given that my return flight to Europe was cancelled at short notice due to Covid-19. This meant a lot to me. Overall, five stars, I recommend this company!
Jul 27, 2020
Columbia Property Management Paulina
My stay at a CPM managed house was really smooth: paying rent is easy, maintenance fixes are quick, and the property was in good shape. My rockier experiences with CPM were in the process of applying to the house and then in getting someone approved to replace me. My application process took about 2 weeks, and my replacement's was even longer. I understand the vetting process for tenants is important, but I really think a review of the process could be helpful. It feels unnecessarily long and burdensome. Showing potential and outgoing tenants more empathy and understanding on how stressful moves are and how much planning they entail--both in your communications and by having a quicker turnaround--could go a long way.

Washington DC Property Management Experts

Our local experience is your advantage in all aspects of the Washington DC residential rental real estate market.

Our in-depth knowledge of the details of the Washington DC market and submarkets, from tenant pool to price points and quality vendors ensures that you get the highest quality management for your rental investment.


If you’d like to learn more about our properties and what it’s like to work with Columbia Property Management, get in touch. We’d be happy to talk more about our rental properties, our application requirements, and our leasing process.

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Columbia Property Management

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 92488, Washington, DC 20090

Main Office:
1140 3rd Street NE, Floor 2,  Washington, DC 20002
T: (888) 857-6594 | F: (202) 600-8165