When to get a rental license in Philly?

4 Replies

I'm closing on my first duplex in Philly at the end of April, and am wondering when I should apply for the rental license. The property is zoned RSA-3 single family with a variance for use as a duplex. The seller never bothered to get a CAL (Commercial Activity License) or rental license, but has applied for one to verify the property is correctly zoned. 

I recently applied and was approved for a CAL for this property, but no results populated for the address when applying for the rental license. I'm wondering if this is because of the variance on the property, or because we haven't closed on the house yet. 

Hoping for any insight into this situation if you are familiar with it. Thanks!

@Jesse Fields

You do not need to apply for a rental license until you actually settle on the property. You won't be able to apply before because L&I will ask for CD or HUD or Deed for the property.

Agree with response above. Just wanted to add that it’s quicker and easier to pay a visit to L&I when the time comes. They allow you to apply online but the system works poorly at best and you will most likely have to go there to finish the application anyway.

Just to clarify - get the rental suitability license just before you rent. It’s valid for only 60 days before the rental - so if you get slowed down, you don’t want to have to pay again. Plus, no need to pay for an extra few months if you’re rehabbing, etc.

I also wouldn’t trust the license website to verify the correctness of the zoning. If you have zoning issues/questions, you should research separately.

Thank you everyone for the helpful information! 

As an update, I received a copy of the rental license from the seller which in addition to historical zoning approval, confirms that the zoning is correct for its intended use as a duplex. Now after the inspection on Monday, we will be able to move forward with the Rental Suitability License if there aren't too many issues that come out of it. We will probably wait until 5/1, when we are set to have the tenants in place sign our lease to apply since it's only valid for 60 days. Also, it looks like the fee has been waived for this license according to the L&I website: https://secure.phila.gov/CRS-Onlinev2/

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