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Landlord Gateway

New landlords

Qualifying your business

You need to start by qualifying your business. The type of license you need will depend on the number of rental units at the property and whether you live at the property.

To rent out … You’ll need …
A property you don’t occupy
A property that has four or more units
A Commercial Activity License Number

Business Income and Receipts Tax (BIRT)

A property you occupy that has three or fewer units An Activity License Number

Requirements for a rental license

Before applying, you will have to collect all the paperwork needed to apply for a rental license.

  • Open and compliant Philadelphia Tax Account
  • Commercial Activity License, or an Activity License
  • Proof of ownership
  • Proof of legal occupancy (for all other than single-family dwellings)
  • Lead-safe or lead-free certification uploaded through the Health Department’s Lead and Healthy Homes Submission Site
  • Verified that there are no open violations on the property
  • Identification of Managing Agent, if applicable

Resources on tax compliance

To apply for a rental license, landlords must be current on property taxes.

  • Check the City’s Property Assessment Tool before you go to submit your application to confirm you don’t have any outstanding payments, and to stay compliant while avoiding future complications when you go to apply for or renew your license.

Take advantage of the Philadelphia Tax Center

  • File and pay your property taxes online
  • Apply for Real Estate Tax assistance programs or request a refund
  • Get a tax clearance certificate to show that your City of Philadelphia tax account is in good standing.
    • A tax clearance certificate is a requirement to apply for several financial assistance opportunities, including the Rental Improvement Fund and the Eviction Diversion Program.

Resources on lead safety

Lead can affect children’s brains and developing nervous systems, causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. Lead is also toxic and causes serious and long-lasting health issues for adults. Learn more about lead safety from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Landlords are required to test and certify rental properties as lead safe or lead free, in order to A) execute a new or renewed lease or B) receive or renew a rental license.

Addressing lead issues in your home: Renovation, Repair, and Repainting

  • Lead in dust, which is often invisible, is the most common way people are exposed to lead. Lead-based paint is most common in buildings built before 1978. People can also be exposed to lead in soil.
  • You may be eligible for help with removing the lead in your home. Call (215) 685-2788.

Establishing proof of ownership

Proof of ownership

Legal ownership of your property, with your name on the deed, allows you to obtain loans or grants, get homeowner’s insurance, and access utility or tax assistance programs, as well as rent or sell your property. Learn about two key issues that can affect your proof of ownership.

Tangled titles

  • A tangled title occurs when your name is not on the deed of the home you’re living in. This often happens when a relative passes and their property is not probated (a legal process that determines that a will is valid).
  • Prevent a tangled title: creating a legal will is the most effective way to avoid confusion over the ownership of your home, or ownership disputes for your heirs.
  • Resolve a tangled title: first you’ll start the probate process to transfer ownership, then you’ll record a new deed in your name.

Deed fraud

  • Fraud is when a person sells a home pretending to be the owner without permission from the legal owner, or signs a mortgage for a property they don’t own.
  • Sign up for Deed Fraud Guard, a free way to monitor your land records and warn you of potential property fraud.

Obtain a certified copy of your deed here: this is especially important if the deed to your home was recorded before 2000

Applying for a rental license

You can apply for this license online using eCLIPSE or by making an appointment at the Permit and License Center:

  • Upload all the required documents
  • Applications are reviewed within five business days
  • You will get either a notice of approval, or a request for more information if not approved

Learn more about how to get a Rental License.

Connecting with tenants

Once you are licensed, you can start the process of finding a tenant. Here are resources to help you understand what to look for:

Resources on fair housing

Learn about your responsibilities for fair housing.