Row homes with basement rentals, popularly referred to in D.C. as “English basements,” have been all the rage with renters here the past few years.
Row homes with basement rentals, common in older cities like the District, are prevalent in communities on the outskirts of downtown like Shaw and Dupont and attract many young professionals. Many owners of row homes with basements are renovating them to accommodate for the growing demand for the rentals. But the basement rentals in the row homes must by law include features like deadbolts, removable bars on the windows and smoke alarms.
Row homes with basement rentals often offer more affordable rental options, with monthly rents like $1,375 for a renovated, 550-square-foot basement rental in Logan Circle, $1,700 for a 1BR, 700-square-foot rental in Capital Hill and $2,050 for a 1BR, 650-square-foot rental in Dupont, according to recent Craigslist postings. Row homes with basement rentals are well below D.C.’s average rent of $1,963 as of November, according to RentJungle.com.
In the District, many homebuyers who purchase a row homes do so intending to offer a basement rental to help offset the cost of their mortgage. To help those row home owners ensure their basement rental is up to code, DC’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has created a website that offers landlords a resource page called Rent Your DC Basement Apartment Legally.
Aside from a handy checklist, the site offers tips for how row home owners can ensure, for example, that their HVAC, window glazing, door locks and rental licenses among the many other basement rental details are up to code.
So homeowners who are searching for the perfect row home in the District should factor in whether their homes have basements that can be offered as rentals. Because if so, the process for ensuring landlords are legally on track is increasingly easy thanks to the DCRA’s new website. And of course also because a large number of professionals are increasingly seeking out row homes with basement rentals.
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