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How do I obtain/renew a Housing Rental License?

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A Housing Rental License is required of any entity that rents any type of housing unit. It is also formerly known as Housing Inspection License (HIL).
  • A Housing Rental License is required for the following: multiple-family dwelling, rooming house, dormitory, condominium or hotel, or offering for rent a one- or two-family dwelling or rooming unit.
  • Housing Rental Licenses are required for vacant residential properties and lots.
  • The fee is $55 per unit for residential properties and $160 for vacant properties or vacant lots.
  • A City of Philadelphia Business Tax Account (BIRT) and a Commercial Activity License (CAL) are required before applying for a Housing Rental License.
  • Everyone listed on the deed must be listed on the business tax account and business license.
  • If more than a single-family dwelling, the total number of units must be listed on the license and the fee paid is per unit.
  • If the property is an owner-occupied duplex, the owner does not need to obtain a Commercial Activity License (CAL) but is required to obtain a School Income Tax (SIT) from the Revenue Department and must only pay the fee for the one unit that is rented but still must claim two units.
For the owner to qualify for this exemption, the owner's name must be the same on the title deed, the license application, and some independent verification which indicates that this is the owner's legal address (driver's license, current utility bill excluding water). This exemption is only valid for owner-occupied properties with 2-4 family dwellings. Although no CAL is required, you are still required to obtain a SIT (School Income Tax) from the Revenue Department.

If the owner resides outside of Philadelphia, an agent who resides within the city limits must be designated by the owner to forward notices, orders, or summonses to the owner.
  • Agent qualifications: Agent must be a person over the age of eighteen (18) who lives in Philadelphia or is regularly available at a Philadelphia address.
  • If the agent's address is a business address, a Commercial Activity License must be registered there.
  • An agent terminating their services must give notice to L+I, License and Issuance Unit, and include in the notice the owner's name and address, the address of the property, and the license number. The owner is required to designate a new agent within thirty (30) days.
  • The owner can designate an agent at any time by filling out an amended application with the signature of the agent. There is no additional charge for a change of agent.
  • An owner who does not live in Philadelphia and is not regularly available at a Philadelphia address is not permitted to act as an agent.
  • If the rental property was purchased within the last six months, you must provide a signed settlement sheet or recorded deed.
  • For complete information and application, visit http://www.phila.gov/li/Pages/Licenses.aspx
Prior Approvals (ZONING):
  • Commercial Activity License
  • Business Income and Receipts Tax Account Number
  • Federal Employee (Tax) Identification Number (FEIN) or Social Security Number (for an individual)
  • *** Zoning Approval (for two or more units) ***
  • Lead Paint Disclosure and Certification

Payment Information

RETURNED CHECKS: If your check is returned unpaid for insufficient or uncollected funds, (1) you authorize The City of Philadelphia or its agent to make a one-time electronic fund transfer from your account to collect a fee of $20; and (2) The City of Philadelphia or its agent may re-present your check electronically to your depository institution for payment.

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