Anyone who offers a dwelling unit or rooming unit for rent must obtain proper licenses and zoning approval from the Department of Licenses and Inspections (L & I). This will include all of the following:
A Housing Inspection License (issued by L & I) is required of any person who offers for rent a one-family dwelling, two-family dwelling (duplex), a dwelling with three or more units (whether rental, cooperative, or condominium), or a rooming house, dormitory, or hotel.
Each time a dwelling unit is rented to a new tenant, the owner must give the tenant a written statement certifying that the rental unit is licensed and listing the license number.
This license is required of every person desiring to engage in any business in the City of Philadelphia. It is a lifetime license with a one-time fee and applies to all businesses owned by a person.
EXCEPTION: In a property with four or less rental units, where the owner lives on the premises, a Business Privilege License is not required.
This is a number assigned by the Philadelphia Revenue Department to identify tax accounts. One number applies for all licenses obtained by a person.
The Business Privilege License and Business Tax Account Number are applied for using the same form. Only one Business Privilege License and one Business Tax Account Number is required of one person, regardless of how many rental properties a person owns.
A property must be properly zoned in order to operate as a dwelling for rent. Zoning approval is required even if the owner occupies one of the units.
The owner of a multiple-family dwelling, rooming house, dormitory, or hotel is required to name a managing agent over the age of eighteen (18) years to receive service of notices, orders, or summonses issued by L & I. The managing agent is required to have a residence or a regularly attended business office within the City of Philadelphia. If the owner meets these qualifications, he or she may be designated the managing agent.