Denver Residential Rental Licensing Requirements

March 1, 2023 | Kayla Banzali

By 2024, all landlords who rent out residential property in the City and County of Denver must get a local license. Failure to do so can result in fines and create other legal issues. In this article, we’ll cover what the license requires and what you need to do to get one.

A key opens the door to an apartment.

Denver’s residential licensing ordinance, which passed in 2021, requires landlords to meet minimum housing standards and ensure their renters know their rights.

The purpose of this article is to supplement the provisions of state law governing the rights and duties of landlords and tenants of residential property in the city and to license and regulate certain buildings, structures, dwelling units or accessory dwelling units that are rented or offered for rent as long-term residential rental properties.” — Ord. No. 420-21, § 1, 5-3-21

If landlords pass a certified home inspection, pay a fee, and submit all the required paperwork on time, their residential rental license will be good for four years unless the property changes ownership.

What is a Residential Rental Property?

The City and County of Denver consider residential rental properties to be any “building, structure, or accessory dwelling unit” that is rented (or offered for rent) as someone’s home for at least 30 days at a time. source: City and County of Denver

Residential Rental Licensing Rollout

Denver is implementing its rental licensing requirements in three phases. The first phase of the ordinance took effect on January 1, 2022. By now, all rental property owners and operators should be providing tenants a copy of Denver’s Tenant Rights and Resources when they sign their lease and if the landlord serves a rent demand letter.

Multi-Unit Rentals

The second phase began on January 1, 2023. Landlords who own duplexes, apartment buildings, and other multi-unit dwellings that exist on a single parcel must now be licensed.

Single Rentals

The final licensing phase, which begins January 1, 2024, covers anyone who offers, provides, or runs a single rental dwelling unit. These can include:

  • single-family homes
  • condo units
  • single units within a rowhouse

The Process to Get a Denver Residential Rental License

There are a number of steps to take to complete the process. You’ll have to fill out various applications and gather certain supplemental documents. If you have a property with multiple units, you’ll need to determine how many of the units must be inspected. (It’s 10 percent of the total units rounded to the nearest whole number.)

We highly recommend you visit Denver’s residential rental property page where all of this information is in one convenient place.

Once you have an idea of everything you’ll need to apply, it’s time to select a home inspector.

Choosing the Right Home Inspector

The most critical piece of your licensing application is your home inspection. The inspector needs to meet Denver’s specific requirements, otherwise, your home inspection won’t be accepted.

Home Inspector Requirements

The inspection must be completed by a third-party certified home inspector who is certified as an R5, C5, or C8 Combination Building Inspector by the International Code Council (ICC).

Also, the inspector must be certified by one of the following groups:

  • American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI)
  • International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)
  • Master Inspector Certification Board

Landlords could also benefit from hiring an inspector who is familiar with Denver’s requirements. Doing so may prevent having to redo the inspection because something on the checklist was missed.

Additionally, you’ll want to find an inspector who has adequate insurance to cover any accidents that might occur on the property.

Inspection and Fee Exemptions

Some landlords are exempt from having their rental property inspected and can even get some of their fees waived.

Landlords who have affordable or public housing properties that were inspected by a local, state, or government agency within the last four years and met federal housing standards can submit that report in lieu of a residential home inspection.

Note ➤ You still have to have a license even if you’re exempt from the home inspection.

If you rent out affordable or public housing, you may also qualify to have your application and licensing fees waived if you meet certain criteria. For instance, if the property is owned or leased by a government agency or tax-exempt organization, you may not owe fees.

What Happens if I Don’t Get a Residential Rental License?

First off, you’ll be illegally operating a rental unit, and Denver could fine you and issue other penalties. You’ll also open yourself up to liability and other risks if you need to evict a tenant.

Contact a Landlord Attorney

The bottom line is you need a license if you’re going to rent homes in Denver. The licensing and inspection requirements may seem straightforward at first, but they can become complicated if you have multiple properties or believe you may qualify for an exemption. If you have questions about the process or concerns about why your license was denied, our attorneys may be able to help. Call 303-688-0944 to begin your free case assessment.

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