Steps to Becoming a Landlord in Philadelphia

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Whether you’re turning your first home into a rental property or purchasing a property for investment, becoming a landlord in Philadelphia can be confusing. The required certificates and licenses for landlords are issued by a few different departments in the city, and must be done in a specific order.

To make it simple, we’ve prepared a step-by-step with links to complete each online. With this guide, you can become a landlord with $55 from your couch.

1) Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) Account Number (Philadelphia Department of Revenue)

Every individual, partnership, association and corporation doing business in Philadelphia must file a Business Income and Receipts Tax Return, formerly the Business Privilege Tax.

2) Create an eClipse account (Electronic Commercial Licensing, Inspections, and Permit Services Enterprise).

This will allow you to apply and renew any license you need from the License and Inspections Department.

3) Commercial Activity License (Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections)

An Activity License is needed to conduct business within Philadelphia. This includes businesses that are located outside the city limits but do some or all of their business activity in the City. Unless you are become an owner-occupied landlord of 2-4 units, you will need to register for a Commercial Activity License.

  • Register online in your eClispe account (no cost)

4) Lead Paint Disclosure and Certification Law (Philadelphia Department of Health)

This law requires landlords to ensure that rental properties are Lead Safe or Lead Free if the property was built before 1978 and any new occupant is aged six years or under. This certificate must be shown to and signed by your tenant(s) before a lease is signed. and upon renewal of a lease.

5) Housing Rental License (Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections)

This license is required of any entity that rents any type of housing unit. (formerly known as a Housing Inspection License.) You can preview the application fields to prepare. If you have a multi-unit (two or more units,) you will need Zoning Approval

  • Register online in your eClispe account ($55 per unit)

6) Certificate of Rental Suitability (Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections)

You will need this certificate each time to rent a unit. This verifies that the property doesn’t have L&I violations and is fit and habitable to lease in accordance with all applicable requirements of the Philadelphia Property Code.

  • Obtain online no longer than 60 days before your lease start date (no cost)

7) PGW Landlord Cooperation Program

If you would like to be notified when PGW is asked to shutoff gas, perform service work, or when there is collection-related activity at your property, you need to register for the PGW Landlord Cooperation Program. Properties that are not eligible include commercial/industrial properties,a multi-unit property with a single meter, an owner-occupied property, or properties where the landlord is (or legally required to be) the customer of record.

Congrats, you’re officially a landlord! Now it's time to let your Philly Home Girls agent list your property. After the flood of applicants come in, you will want to be prepared to do your due diligence.

8) Screening your applicants

To screen your tenant applicants, you can run multiple reports to check things like their credit, criminal background, income insight, and eviction history.

National Tenant Network ($99 one-time fee) Once you have an account, you are able to run reports and charge applicants.

SmartMove with TransUnion (no cost) You can pay per applicant or send the charge to the applicant.

As a landlord, you are required to show your compliance with the Lead Paint Disclosure and Certification Law. In addition, it’s your responsibility to provide your tenants the following documents before the lease in signed:

Partners for Good Housing Publication Partners for Good Housing outlines the responsibilities of owners, tenants, and landlords for maintaining houses and apartments in a safe and clean condition.

Partners for Good Housing Lead In Water Supply Supplement

For additional reference, visit L&I online.

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