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Certificate of Occupancy

Do you own a home in DC with a basement you’d like to rent out? Are you looking for a property with the ability to rent out the basement to make the mortgage more affordable to you? While it’s definitely an option, many homeowners in the District do not follow the rules when it comes to renting out their basement. That can cause quite a headache for the landlord if they are caught, as legally DC is very tenant-friendly. However, we’ve got the answers you need. This link will give you the rundown of what you need to do to get a Two Family Rental License. The most important thing you must have to rent out your basement is a certificate of occupancy. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Make sure you live in an area of DC that is zoned for multi-families. Most of these are in the downtown area, including Chinatown, Dupont Circle, and Capitol Hill.

  2. Ensure that there are two exits to the outside of the property from the basement.

  3. The ceiling heights must be of a minimum measurement. Check the zoning laws in your neighborhood to make sure you basement meets the correct height requirements.

  4. Your heating and cooling systems must have separate metering in the basement.

  5. Make an appointment with an inspector to come out and approve your basement for the certificate.

We also recommend meeting for an hour with a landlord-tenant attorney to ensure that everything is in place and you are on the right side of the law. While all of this might seem quite the process, it can save you a lot of time and money down the road, including avoiding fines if caught with an illegal basement.  If you have any questions about certificates of occupancy or Two Family Rental Licenses, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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