Documents you have to provide to your tenants in Philadelphia

47 Replies

Hello all,

I see a lot of questions here on BP forums about rentals in Philadelphia and landlord-tenant rules.

I put a list of links together for new investors to use and see what you need to rent a property in Philadelphia.

Here is a useful link to tenant-landlord rules in Philadelphia where you can find everything you need:

http://www.phila.gov/li/pages/tenantlandlord.aspx

As you all know or heard you need to have a housing inspection license aka “rental license”. To apply for a rental license for the first time you will have to go to the City of Philadelphia municipal building. However, after initial application you would be able to renew it every year online. Currently rental license cost $55 per unit. Before you can apply for a rental license you should have a Philadelphia Business Tax Account Number. Which can be done online and it’s free of charge. Then you will need to get your Philadelphia commercial activity license. That can be done online as well. It used to cost $300 but now you can get it for free. Now, after you have all of this you can apply for a license. This links will help you with all other papers that city requires you to have or provide to your tenants.

Here you can find rental license application and fill it out before you go to the L&I: https://business.phila.gov/housing-inspection-license/

Now, before you rent you unit you should get a Certificate of Rental Suitability for the property and give it to your new tenant: https://secure.phila.gov/CRS-Onlinev2/intro.aspx

You also need to provide them with a brochure “Partners for good housing” that you can find at: http://www.phila.gov/health/pdfs/partnersinhousing.pdf

Also you need to give them a booklet “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” which can be found at https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-lead-your-home

Now, you may think that is enough? No, it is not. If the property was build prior to 1978 (which most of the properties in Philadelphia were) and any of your new occupant is aged six years or under, you will have to provide them with Certification of Lead Safe Status. To get that certification you will have to pay for a certified lead inspector do testing of the unit (which may cost anywhere from $190 to $300 a unit).

After you have all documents, licenses and certificates done and ready you can sign a lease and be a happy landlord.

Please let me know if I’m missing something.

Thank you and hope this helps.

Updated over 3 years ago

Updates for MFH. As @Steve Babiak noticed you need to include smoking policy in your lease. Also if you have 3-unit property and more you need to do annual fire alarm inspection and fire extinguishers inspection.

I would add the supplement to the Partners for Good Housing where the page explains hazards associated with lead water supply piping and requires landlord's disclosure of any lead water supply piping.

And what about smoking policy disclosure?

Originally posted by @Yuriy Skripnichenko :

Hello all,

I see a lot of questions here on BP forums about rentals in Philadelphia and landlord-tenant rules.

I put a list of links together for new investors to use and see what you need to rent a property in Philadelphia.

Here is a useful link to tenant-landlord rules in Philadelphia where you can find everything you need:

http://www.phila.gov/li/pages/tenantlandlord.aspx

As you all know or heard you need to have a housing inspection license aka “rental license”. To apply for a rental license for the first time you will have to go to the City of Philadelphia municipal building. However, after initial application you would be able to renew it every year online. Currently rental license cost $55 per unit. Before you can apply for a rental license you should have a Philadelphia Business Tax Account Number. Which can be done online and it’s free of charge. Then you will need to get your Philadelphia commercial activity license. That can be done online as well. It used to cost $300 but now you can get it for free. Now, after you have all of this you can apply for a license. This links will help you with all other papers that city requires you to have or provide to your tenants.

Here you can find rental license application and fill it out before you go to the L&I: https://business.phila.gov/housing-inspection-license/

Now, before you rent you unit you should get a Certificate of Rental Suitability for the property and give it to your new tenant: https://secure.phila.gov/CRS-Onlinev2/intro.aspx

You also need to provide them with a brochure “Partners for good housing” that you can find at: http://www.phila.gov/health/pdfs/partnersinhousing.pdf

Also you need to give them a booklet “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” which can be found at https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-lead-your-home

Now, you may think that is enough? No, it is not. If the property was build prior to 1978 (which most of the properties in Philadelphia were) and any of your new occupant is aged six years or under, you will have to provide them with Certification of Lead Safe Status. To get that certification you will have to pay for a certified lead inspector do testing of the unit (which may cost anywhere from $190 to $300 a unit).

After you have all documents, licenses and certificates done and ready you can sign a lease and be a happy landlord.

Please let me know if I’m missing something.

Thank you and hope this helps.

 Thank you , Yura for very helpful post. Now that we decided to find tenants on our own, this information is what I need to prepare contract. I used to rely on agent to provide all the disclosures and brocures to the tenants . Now I know what to give them with the lease. And thanks for encouraging us to make our own listing through Zillow. I guess its kind of slow season though and I put all the expectations in my property description, so that kind of preventing unwilling tenants to contact us. Do you recommend to put a FOR RENT sign in front of the house? 

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :

I would add the supplement to the Partners for Good Housing where the page explains hazards associated with lead water supply piping and requires landlord's disclosure of any lead water supply piping.

And what about smoking policy disclosure?

 What is a " smoking policy disclosure "?

Smoking policy regulation info:

http://www.paa-east.com/philadelphia-smoking-discl...

@Lana Lee - if you are going to do your own tenant management inside the City of Philadelphia (and I do encourage you to do so), I highly recommend that you join HAPCO; you will receive a manual that goes into some of the quirks that exist within Philadelphia's landlord tenant regulations.

And I recommend you also join DIG http://digonline.org/

DIG members get discounted rates for screening services (I use TenantReports.com where I get a bundle of credit reports plus nationwide criminal and eviction reports for $25 plus sales tax as a DIG member), plus DIG has some training classes that you might find of value - Don Beck holds a landlord class every year or so and you will learn a lot just from this one day in class with him. Plus DIG has many other benefits.

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :

Smoking policy regulation info:

http://www.paa-east.com/philadelphia-smoking-discl...

@Lana Lee - if you are going to do your own tenant management inside the City of Philadelphia (and I do encourage you to do so), I highly recommend that you join HAPCO; you will receive a manual that goes into some of the quirks that exist within Philadelphia's landlord tenant regulations.

And I recommend you also join DIG http://digonline.org/

DIG members get discounted rates for screening services (I use TenantReports.com where I get a bundle of credit reports plus nationwide criminal and eviction reports for $25 plus sales tax as a DIG member), plus DIG has some training classes that you might find of value - Don Beck holds a landlord class every year or so and you will learn a lot just from this one day in class with him. Plus DIG has many other benefits.

 Thank you , Steve. 

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :

I would add the supplement to the Partners for Good Housing where the page explains hazards associated with lead water supply piping and requires landlord's disclosure of any lead water supply piping.

And what about smoking policy disclosure?

 I updated the list with the smoking disclosure and fire alarm inspections. 

However, both of those affect properties with 3 units and more. By the ordinance you do not have to have or do alarm inspection in a duplex nor give your tenants smoking disclosure. 

@Yuriy Skripnichenko - I agree that multi-unit properties are the ones affected, but keep in mind that's what a lot of investors are seeking , plus whenever possible keeping policies, procedures and paperwork consistent across rentals can make managing easier.

And the multi-unit owners also need to post a recycling plan for Philadelphia properties.

Originally posted by @Sheryl S.:

You can get a rental license online. No need to go anywhere.

That would take the "fun" out of waiting in the basement at the Municipal Services Building ;)

@Sheryl S.

Usually it takes the city at least couple months before they update new owner information on the system. And until then you can not get your license online. You need to bring a copy of your CD or deed to the L&I in person. I guess you don't have to do it if you do not plan on getting rental license for a couple months and then you'll be able to apply online. However, you will be always able to renew online. 

@Yuriy Skripnichenko Thanks for providing this information for us newbies. Do you have a pdf copy of the rental license application? I've tried using the link that you sent but it only leads me to the eCLIPSE system to apply online. The pdf of the application isn't listed on the page. I will have to take the paperwork down to L&I (joy) since I just purchased this property last week. I want to be sure that I have everything I need.

Originally posted by @Alicia H. :

@Yuriy Skripnichenko Thanks for providing this information for us newbies. Do you have a pdf copy of the rental license application? I've tried using the link that you sent but it only leads me to the eCLIPSE system to apply online. The pdf of the application isn't listed on the page. I will have to take the paperwork down to L&I (joy) since I just purchased this property last week. I want to be sure that I have everything I need.

The first thing to do is get your Commercial Activity License. Then rental license.

Originally posted by @Alicia H. :

@Yuriy Skripnichenko Thanks for providing this information for us newbies. Do you have a pdf copy of the rental license application? I've tried using the link that you sent but it only leads me to the eCLIPSE system to apply online. The pdf of the application isn't listed on the page. I will have to take the paperwork down to L&I (joy) since I just purchased this property last week. I want to be sure that I have everything I need.

The first thing to do is get your Commercial Activity License. Then rental license.

@Steve Babiak is right. 

Also @Alicia H. you can try to apply for your rental license online even if you just purchased the property. They will ask you to upload closing docs. However every time I'm trying to get a new license online I have some kind of issue that I have to go physically to L&I and get the license. Last property I applied this year I was even able to pay online for the license but they had some "glitch" with the site and I had to go to L&I... but I will keep trying and I hope that sometime soon I will be able to do it all online without going down there. 

Does anyone know if you need a Philly Business Tax # and Philly Commercial Activity License for each property? Or do you just need one of each and then you are good for the foreseeable future?