Permit to rent a duplex?

26 Replies

So I got a visit from code enforcement at my latest duplex in Pasco county florida today. I was not there, but they left a "courtesy notice" that says I need to get a permit to rent out a duplex. I never heard of this (have only owned duplexes for 2 years now) though, I will call the permit office tomorrow to see what it's about, and what this costs, but curious if others have had this?

Hello! Also a relatively new investor- also owned a duplex (now two!) for two years. We didn't need a permit to rent the whole duplex, but our borough requires a permit to rent each unit. For us its about $60 per unit per year. Hope this helps! 

Oh, don't get me started! 

Many areas require a "permit". In my area, they call it a Rental Registration. And of course for this additional "benefit" of registering, you get to pay. You should be able to look up the rules (and possibly costs) in your municipal code.

Thanks @Erich Beyer  , that interesting.. So if one person rents both sides you don't pay? That's pretty crazy sounding! Government at work! :)

@Chris Martin I am curious if this applies to SFR too? I have one in my county, and another in a neighboring county. That one has been rented for 10 years now, never heard of this before. I know ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law though! I will let you all know what my benefit (ie how much this is going to cost me) tomorrow, hopefully it's not a complex process and just a (small) fee...

In my area, the fee applies to any rental in the city/town jurisdiction. Apartments (property on same parcel) have a different fee schedule from SFR. Condos on a single parcel act like apartments as far as the fee... in some towns. We pay registration fees to multiple towns.

We have rental inspections to get a rental certificate. Always a grand or two(or more) in BS repairs we have to do to meet code.

@Chase Gochnauer  OK, that is not what I want to hear! Is that an annual inspection you have to do??

Bottom line is that you need to know the rental regulations wherever you own or plan to buy rentals. In SE PA, Phila has all sorts of requirements above and beyond the state's requirements, and you need TWO kinds of licenses there!  Other towns in SE PA have all sorts of differing regulations, from annual inspections to inspections at change of occupants to no inspections.  And a license to rent is just expected everywhere ...

This varies a lot of area to area and even city to city.  The only answer that is meaningful is the one that applies to your city.  Try just googling "rental registration" and the name of the city.  Most cities have this sort of thing online.

Three years I believe. It's very location specific though. Some towns have no requirement. The city probably has some information on their web page. 

I just found out that MD properties must be permitted by the rental enforcement office.  I had no idea and neither did my realtor.  I have to rush and go get a temp license.  It take up to 90 days for them to come out.

Same here & it justified 3 new $30,000 positions in the bldg inspection dept. The premise was to improve the condition of the properties & keep track of absentee landlords. The latter has simply not happened.

However, after some notices we rehabbed & improved several properties only to see the tax assessment more than double & up here that hurts. However, we had several properties subject to a 'contract for deed' (in place way before the overwhelming intelligence of the DF Act). Interesting enough is that these properties don't seem to be subject to the same registration requirements & any code violations are written again the occupants, after a friendly call from the bldg inspector explaining the complaint.

One town I invest in requires this and another one 15 minutes away doesn't.  I think it helps combat against slumlords.  I need to renew each year and also get a occupancy inspection for each tenant turnover.  The upside to this is when I bought this place they actually did the occupancy inspection and we couldn't close until all the issues were resolved.  The seller had to do $2,500 work of work (railings, gfi outlets, repair window, etc).

Other places I have purchased in just have someone sign off on the occupancy inspection and I know there is no way they even stepped a foot inside the property because I knew there were missing smoke detectors, no railings, etc.....but they sign off anyway....

I don't mind it as long as the price for these permits and inspections are reasonable because it hold everyone to a higher standard to provide a safe home for tenants.

OK, so far the county has no idea about this after my calls this morning, haha... 

Permit department said if it is an existing duplex they never heard of this. They told me to talk to Zoning. I called zoning and the person seemed confused, and kept asking if I was trying to turn it into a business, or what I wanted to do to it. After explaining a few times, she said they'd have to look into it and get back to me.

I don't feel so bad now about not knowing based on that call.  So I will wait to see what they say when \ if they call back....

@Steve Babiak  I agree! I did get the information docs from the clerk when I started renting, but they just talked about fair housing, and evictions, etc. Any other suggestions on staying up to date? I don't see it on the website, unless I'm not looking in the right place....

Will update the thread if I get a call back from them.

@Jesse O. - one way to "keep up" with regulations is to belong to the local landlord associations, since they usually make it a point to be aware of updates to regulations. In Phila, I belong to HAPCO, and I also belong to DIG which is a REIA in SE PA, and with those memberships I also get a membership to PROA (for state of PA updates).

But they might not be too concerned about tiny towns with fewer rentals ...

I ditto what @Steve Babiak  says, join your local rental association (or landlord association). Not only do they help keep us informed about existing and changing regulations, they also alert us to upcoming legislation that may negatively impact our business.  Then we have an opportunity to work with our lobbyists and state legislators to correct and/or stop bad legislative bills before they are enacted into law. This holds true with working with city and county officials as well. Our voices are heard, we have a greater impact, and better results when we speak in solidarity with other landlords.

@Steve Babiak  @Marcia Maynard  Thanks, it's hard to get the time, but looks like I need to make that jump, thanks!

btw - no call back from the county yet....

Originally posted by @Jesse O. :

@Steve Babiak  @Marcia Maynard Thanks, it's hard to get the time, but looks like I need to make that jump, thanks!

Our local rental association meets once a month for a dinner meeting and speaker. Networking starts at 600pm, Dinner served at 630pm, Speaker at 700pm, Networking afterwards and all done by 900pm. That's only a commitment of 3 hours every month, well worth my time. I make it a priority to attend and be involved. The value is extensive....

The speakers are experts from the community, such as the Fire Marshall, Community Police Officers, Landlord-Tenant Lawyers, Re-Finance Lenders, Health Department, American Red Cross Disaster Preparedness, County Drug Task Force Detective, Restoration Companies, City Code Compliance, Representative from the Mayors Office, Council for the Homeless Director, Public Utility District, Building Maintenance experts, Appliance Repair experts, Tax experts, HUD/Fair Housing experts, Legislative updates from those actively involved, and many more.

We have a landlord mentoring program... When I joined they assigned a mentor to me and I also volunteer to mentor others, which benefits me as much as my mentees! Plus I receive a monthly newsletter (print or electronic). I can purchase materials such as a copy of the landlord-tenant laws of our state that includes a summary to make them easy to reference; a list of tenants served with "unlawful detainer" (evictions) for my county that goes back seven years and is updated monthly; discount price landlording books; tenant education pamphlets for: Lead-based paint, Renovating Right, Mold & Moisture; property management forms/software. And of course the networking opportunities are plentiful and priceless! 

@Marcia Maynard  Thank you, I know I need to start more participation if I want to get serious. It will be better for me to do this, thanks for all the highlights!

On Another note, I got a end of day call back from the zoning office. They said they had resident complaints in "the area" that it was being illegally rented. There is no "duplex rental permit", what they meant was I need to apply for a special exemption since the land is not zoned for duplex. The area is a SFH area of a few hundred homes on 1 acre lots, and there 8 duplexes mixed in, they were all built the same year, 1981,

Quite frustrating, it has 2 addresses, and 3 meters (it has a well), and the property appraiser lists it as a duplex with two addresses. I looked at the zoning and property appraiser for all in the area and they area all the same. The appraiser even just sent me the annual income and expense return for multi-family under 5 units. I have a another one 3 blocks away, but no notice there. So I guess I'll have to keep talking to them to see where this goes.

@Jesse O.    Make sure this is actually legitimate.  I could see a cleve scam artist putting this up on a bunch of doors and using it to bring in some $$$.  If it is truly a city notice it should have a reference to the applicable law or statute.

@Bob E.  thanks, I think it's legit, as the office did call me back, and wanted me to apply for a special use exemption, go to public hearing, etc. It just doesn't make sense to me, the property has been there 35 years! Should be grandfathered in since it was allowed before!

Originally posted by @Mikisha Simms :

I just found out that MD properties must be permitted by the rental enforcement office.  I had no idea and neither did my realtor.  I have to rush and go get a temp license.  It take up to 90 days for them to come out.

I have properties I rent in Md , and cant find and have never heard of "the rental enforcement  office"

I found out because I had to file for eviction and if you don't have it or haven't applied for it, the judge can grant the tenant the right right to remain in the property until the lease is up and not pay any late fees because you were renting an unlisence property. 3018836168 Dept of Perrmitting inspections and enforcement 

Be sure and don't mention to them that you have another one three blocks away :)

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