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Business Licenses for Rental Properties

Rental Property Business License

Q: What are the required documents and/or information to obtain a Rental Property Business License?

Thank you to one of our customers for the great question! The type of license required to run a rental property business legally and the documents you’ll need to obtain that license vary from state to state. And in some states, you’ll actually need more than one license. To discover the exact requirements for your rental property business, check with the governing authority in charge of issuing business licenses in your state. In the meantime, here’s some basic information on the most commonly required documentation for landlords across jurisdictions.

1. Certificate of Occupancy

In order to remain in compliance with most local authorities—including International Building Code standards (see: IBC § 111.1-111.2)—all buildings must have a Certificate of Occupancy. In order to get a Certificate of Occupancy (or CO), your property must pass a building inspection, which ultimately verifies that your building is fit for occupancy.

Do I need to a new Certificate of Occupancy when purchasing property?

Certificates of Occupancy are required for any new construction project, whether an office building, apartment complex, or a single-family home. If you’re purchasing an existing building (or part of a building), you may or may not need a brand new CO. Some jurisdictions require new COs only when properties are renovated, but some require new COs for all real-estate transactions. It’s best to check in with your local municipality to see whether you’ll need a new Certificate of Occupancy before renting out your property.

How do I get a Certificate of Occupancy?

Certificates of Occupancy are issued at the local level, so you’ll have to reach out to your local government office for instructions on how to proceed.

2. Rental License

A Rental License is essentially a permit landlords must obtain before they can rent out a particular property. (This document is also known as: rental registration, home sharing license, short-term rental permit, etc.) That said, whether or not you need a rental license depends on the jurisdiction in which your building is located. You’ll have to check in with your municipality to see whether or not a rental license is required for your property.

3. Other licenses and/or permits

As a landlord, you may be required to obtain more than a Certificate of Occupancy and a Rental License. Any additional licenses and/or permits will depend on the type of building or property you own, and local health and safety requirements. Again, contact your local municipality—whether it’s a licensing department or building division—to make sure you have all the licenses or permits you need before you take steps to rent out your property.

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