Landlord Information

Is your landlord licensed?

When a property owner decides they want to rent a house, an apartment building or just a portion of their home, the District requires them to obtain a Basic Business License (BBL). This is one of the few ways that the city is able to ensure the property is safe to occupy and can be properly monitored. If gives you, the renters, and the landlord certain protections.

It also triggers an automatic inspection by the D.C. Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and the D.C. Fire Marshall. If they don’t voluntary seek a BBL, we depend on people like yourselves to report these property owners and demand a housing inspection. 

Would like to find out if your landlord is licensed? Click Here

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43 Comments on “Landlord Information

  1. Pingback: Thanks Students. Tell Howard Officials You Need Our Help. « thisshouldbeillegal.com

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  4. Why doesn’t the government protect students by checking to see if student rental properties are licensed?

    It’s simple to spot houses rented to students (in Georgetown for example.)

    Why put the onus on the students?

    • Thanks for your your comment. That is exactly what we’re trying to do with this entire site. Check out the about section. If you spot them, let us know.

  5. 2015 N St NW
    20036

    This is a rogue unlicensed apartment with an owner who ripped off her latest tenants.

  6. Hello,

    I’m wondering why I cannot click on and read the “6 responses” that are listed under Find Your Landlord. I posted on there but I cannot click on the responses. Thanks,

    Tracy

    • Not sure why you’re having this issue. We’ve tried from a few different computers and browsers. Strange. Maybe try to refresh your browser or clear the cache? Thanks again for your comments. We appreciate it.

  7. Hello, I live in an apartment complex where the property manager has not provided a rent control number or business license number. No applications are on file at the respective agencies, and the property manager blames DC for losing the paperwork. Is this common? I have left two messages with the Tenant Advocate over the past 3 weeks, but I have not received any response.

    • @DC Resident I just sent you an email with information and my contact info.

  8. Not surprised that “DC Resident” has never heard anything from the city. I contacted them twice through their website to report the unlicensed apartment at

    Levathes, Owner
    2015 N St NW
    20036

    But I never heard a word back. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

  9. I have been trying to look up whether or not my landlord is licensed to rent out his house. The link on the DCRA for the landlord license search is not working. Any idea when this will be fixed?

    • Sorry. It went down this morning and was supposed to be back up by now. Hopefully very soon. Thanks for your comment.

  10. Is there a resource to report illegal landlords.

    I moved here for college in January and unfortunately was ripped off by an illegal landlord.

    He is housing several people illegally at the Fondo Del Sol art gallery at

    2112 R. St. NW
    Washington, DC 20008

    There is an unstable individual who has been living illegally in the basement and accosted several other tenants. The ‘landlord’ if you can call him that, has done nothing, and when I moved out for safety reasons, has refused to return my deposit.

    Wish I had know about this site/service earlier.

    • You can call 202-442-4311 and provide their name and address. We will investigate.

  11. 1509 Gales St NE #2, DC 20002 (the upstairs unit). One of the tenants there told me that he was physically assaulted by the landlord during a fight. The landlord is a female and the tenant is a male, so he didnt fight back. The tenant told me he moved out the next day. I see screaming and fighting all the time coming from that condo unit. The landlord is not licensed and I have heard she may be here in the US illegally since she is not a US resident.

  12. Why doesn’t DCRA have any office, documentation, web pages, or other material that is designed to assist landlords to do the right thing? All searches I have done as have other landlords I have spoken with – leads us to glean information from materials designed to protect renters. Your organization appears to be completely one-sided on the issue.

    The laws and judiciary in the District are already strongly leaning in favor of tenant’s rights. Why must a landlord hire lawyers or rely on industry groups just to get the information that your department should be freely promoting and providing to landlords? One has to assume that the attitude is “withhold the info so that we can fine ’em!” or “let’s make sure they are not compliant so their tenants can really mess with their income!” Certainly that is not your intent. You should strive to do much better to inform landlords of their duties as a way to protect renters.

    • Mr. Engle,

      We provide how to get license and inspected in several places on this site our our main site http://dcra.dc.gov. If there is any other information you would like us to provide or you think is missing, please let us know. DCRA is responsible for enforcing licensing and building codes. We do not get involved with lease disputes, just so you know. We have actually created another website http://rentmydcbasement.com specifically to help landlords come into compliance if they are renting out a basement apartment.

  13. If you have been renting from a landlord who does not have a BBL, what happens? Also, what if each of the rooms of a house are separately leased and only one is currently under a lease when the landlord tries to raise rent. how is this affected by the lack of a BBL?

    • It appears you are living in an illegal rooming house. We do not handle rent and lease disputes, but you can visit http://dhcd.dc.gov and they have a ton of information and contact information there. In terms of what happens, we can cite the property owner for operating without a BBL or a certificate of occupancy for a rooming house and they can be forced to get the property licensed and inspected. 99 times out of 100, the tenants are not displaced. However, in some cases, the code violations are so bad that we will close the building because it is unsafe for people to live there. This happens rarely, but is a possibility. If you would like to schedule an inspection, please call 202-442-9557 and we can have someone come out quickly.

  14. If a landlord is not registered with the city, is the tenant allowed to sue for back rent?

    • The tenant does have some options, but we do not handle the rent and lease issues. You should really visit http://www.ota.dc.gov for more info and contact them.

  15. Our apartment is registered but it looks like it isn’t in the name of our landlord, with whom our lease is with. I’ve searched the registry website but have not found any properties registered in my landlord’s name. Is our lease still valid, is this illegal?

    • If your apartment is licensed, then it is possible they are using a management company for the lease. A lease is really a separate legal agreement and it’s legality is not really dependent on the license. It is illegal for the property owner to lease without a license, but it doesn’t mean the lease itself is not binding. It’s a little confusing, but I hope that makes some sense.

  16. we rented a house in nw dc in 2005 through 2010.. $200,000.00 in rent payments to an illegal landlord. filed the appropiate paperwork with this office and office of administrative hearings.. this office closed the case due to it’s own professional accountablity. we didn’t mind being evicted for nonpayment, but the dc government sent it’s eviction crew quicker than we got a proper response from any government office…what happened to the tenant’s right to purchase the house while living in the house??? we are currently visiting California until the decision come from the OAH….the court case was heard on march 22,2010 and no response yet…..

    • ilika,
      DCRA doesn’t get involves in lease issues and we certainly don’t do evictions. You should definitely contact the Office of the Tenant Advocate at ota.dc.gov.

      • my landlord was cited for not being licensed and registered in the district… he was given a fine of $2000.00 and refused to pay because your office failed to get the right delivery signed… we did contact lauren pair at the ota… the landlord just took the house off the market during the long period of time it took them to respond… the point is that there is no coordination point between your offices……this might help others who don’t have the resources to walk away from this mess….. thanks….

      • Ilika,
        Not sure what you mean? We handle building code and licensing issues. OTA and DHCD handle lease, rent and other landlord-tenant disputes. Please let us know if there is anything we can do. The lease and the license are not really related from a tenant point of view. We will continue to monitor this building. Thanks you again.

  17. I have tried multiple times to get help with an illegal landlord. He is totally unresponsive to serious service requests, such as leaking roof. Tenants then move out because they are told they should just leave. Of course, no one ever gets their deposit back. Please investigate! 18 Rhode Island Ave NW

  18. Why is it so hard to get DCRA to take care of an illegal landlord? 18 Rhode Island Ave, NW. Landlord is Araya Henok.

    • It’s not hard at all, call our inspections division right now at 202-442-9557, hit ‘6″ and they will schedule a time with you within 72 hours.

  19. Does the house/unit have a dryer that is vented to the outside?

    What if the dryer has a vent going into a device which you manually fill with water where the air escapes through. Meaning not vented to the outside. What would the inspection result in?

  20. What are the consequences to the landlord for renting out a property without a license?

    • Kat,
      We force them to get their property inspected and licensed so you tenants are safe. And they get fined. Unless your building gets condemned, you will cannot be removed from your unit in 99 percent of cases. So do not be scared of reporting unsafe or unlicensed conditions. If you don’t want to report, talk to your landlord about your concerns and hopefully they’ll do this on their own.

  21. Hi, DCRA — If I have a question about whether my lease is legal, whom should I call? I’m not a college student … not sure if that matters or not.

    • Sara,
      We don’t really handle lease issues. But you can contact the Office of the Tenant Advocate and they may be able to provide some guidance. http://www.ota.dc.gov

  22. We moved to a property in haste due to time restraints. We should have known there was something not right about the place.
    Here we go…
    Incident 1-Day 1 moved in date and realized the angle of the stairs wouldnt allow us to moved our furniture in. Called the landlord, he had no idea of this problem and suggested I throw my beds away or work something out. >:-(( Spent 2 hours getting them through the upstairs window…

    Incident 2-Day 2 morning realized the AC isnt blowing on the second floor. He sends someone over to fix within 2 days. 2 months later it still doesnt blow as it should.

    Incident 3-Day 3 Begin to notice an usual amount of bugs. Flies and Knats. He send over an exterminator that sprays. I bombed the the place twice since then. The bugs kinda go away for a couple days then come back full throttle.

    Incident 4-Week 2 DC gets hit with a ridiculous rain storm. The house floods. He’s comes over to use wet vac. And acts surprised it flooded. Later in conversation, he admits he knows and the says its a DC problem. The city has to fix.

    Incident 5-Week 3 Rain Returns. Same lamo excuse.

    The place has been registered. I approached my landlord about moving out, he expects rent for October then he will allow us to move by Nov 1. WTH!!

    Not sure what I need to do.

    • Columbia Heights,
      Sounds like you should move out. While all of these issues sound horrible, not sure they rise to housing code violations. AC isn’t required to be provided, the bugs are an issue but could be because it’s in a flood plain area and the flooding is a problem in parts of DC – it was built on a swamp. It does however, sound like he has been responsive. It might just be a bad rental.

  23. I’m not sure if I’m living in a legal rental or not. I’ve heard the landlord has multiple properties. I can’t find them in the system. The roof leaks, there’s mold. Hard to believe they have a occupancy permit. Other people in house same landlord owns say he still uses lead based paint, because it goes on nicely. Landlord has come in the middle of summer to steal storm windows from our apartment. He claimed they just took the storm windows because they wanted the size so he could replace the other missing storm windows in our apartment. He of course, never brought them or any new ones to the apartment. There is hardly any weatherization in the building. If these people are reported will I have to move out immediately or is there some consideration for tenants? I want to leave the apartment and find something legal, but am not sure how quickly I can find another place. Also, if they aren’t maintaining proper conditions and I elect to move can they keep my security deposit? Also, the apartment is a carriage house with shared power to a main house which is also rented. Maybe I’ll just eat the security deposit and leave.

    • Stanton816,
      I think you should report this property and have an inspector come out immediately. There are lots of protections for the tenant in these situations. You can look up whether or not the apartment is licensed, when it was inspected and whether it has a occupancy permit here: http://pivs.dcra.dc.gov. You can call 202-442-9557 and hit “6” and schedule an inspection. If you leave, another renter will come along and have the same frustrations.

  24. We live next to a rowhouse that is being rented and there are a variety of housing code violations, including ones that impact the neighborhood, e.g. trash/garbage everywhere, excessive weeds, etc. Is there any way a neighbor can request a housing inspection or report the violations anonymously? We are homeowners and are really struggling to live next to these sorts of owner-tenant neglected activities. Any information is appreciated.

  25. I have called DCRA and apparently the owner f my building doesn’t have a license to rent.
    I had to call the electric company recentlydue to unsafe conditions with old wiring. Many things aren’t up to code and are dangerous in a fire.
    I just found out that the person who collects rent and claimed to own the house is merely an agent for the owner.
    I did not know this.
    I also was not told where my security deposit was put
    She has now started to harass me for withholding some rent until things are addressed.
    Very scary voicemail and it sound slike she is trying to rerent my room before even going to court.
    She told me that everyone is happy in the house and for me not to go to DC Goverment about any problems!
    Should I sue to get all my money back and move ?

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