Philadelphia Landlord Requirements

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Obtain a BIRT Account Number

When you rent out a property in Philadelphia, you’re running a business. To operate a business and earn income, you’ll need a Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT) account number. You can obtain this for free online through the Philadelphia Department of Revenue.

Set Up Your eCLIPSE Account

The next step is to create an account on the Electronic Commercial Licensing, Inspections, and Permit Services Enterprise (ECLIPSE) website. This account is necessary to apply for and renew licenses through the Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Obtain a Commercial Activity License

Almost all businesses operating in Philadelphia need a commercial activity license. This applies even if you’re located outside the city limits but renting property within the city. There are some narrow exceptions, so talk to us if you’re unsure about your situation.

Evaluate Your Lead Paint Protocols

If your rental property was built before 1978, you’re required by federal law to provide a lead paint disclosure and certification. This ensures the safety of your tenants, especially young children. You can find more information and obtain the disclosure from the Philadelphia Department of Health.

Obtain Your Rental Housing License

You’ll need a Rental Housing License (previously called a Housing Inspection License) to rent out any type of property in Philadelphia. This is issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspections and costs $55 per unit. You can apply through your eCLIPSE account.

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*In addition to the license, you’ll also need a Certificate of Rental Suitability for each unit. This confirms that your property meets the Philadelphia Property Code’s habitability standards. It’s free but needs to be obtained within 60 days of your lease start date.

Sign Up for the PGW Landlord Cooperation Program

This program by Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) helps keep you informed about gas shutoffs, planned work near your property, and collection activities related to your tenants’ accounts. Signing up is free and easy, but it’s only available for residential properties you don’t occupy yourself. Sign up for the Landlord Cooperation Program here.

Finding and Placing Tenants

Once you’ve completed the administrative tasks, it’s time to find tenants for your property. Here are some tips:

1. Ensure your property is rent-ready by making any necessary repairs and upgrades to enhance its appeal. 

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2. Research fair market rent for similar properties in your area to set a competitive price.

3. Create a compelling listing with high-quality photos and clear descriptions, adhering to fair housing laws.

4. Be available for property showings to prospective tenants.

5. Consider working with a Philadelphia property management company to help you screen tenants and find qualified residents.

We're Here to Help

Becoming a landlord can be complex, but you don’t have to go it alone. At Innovate Realty, we support Philadelphia investors of all experience levels. We can help you with everything from navigating paperwork to finding the perfect tenants. Contact us today to learn more.

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