Frequently asked questions

This page contains frequently asked questions related to the residential rental property licensing program.

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General information

Why is the city requiring a license?

The goal of the program is to proactively enforce minimum required housing standards to ensure public health, safety, and welfare. By licensing and regulating rental properties, the program will ensure rentals are generally maintained in a safe and sanitary condition and will supplement the rights and duties of landlords and tenants in the city. The program will help landlords ensure the properties they offer for rent comply with the minimum housing standards. The program will also help the city gather accurate information about Denver’s housing conditions and market. The data will aid in the development of future housing policy.

What are Denver’s minimum housing standards?

Denver’s minimum housing standards are governed by the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment. Information and the standards are available here: Residential Health Requirements

Who is required to get a license?

A residential rental property is any building, structure, or accessory dwelling unit that is rented or offered for rent as a residence for 30 days or more at a time.

  • By 2024, all landlords (property owners or the managers of those properties) that rent any dwelling unit (single home or multifamily unit) within the City of Denver long term (more than 30 days) will be required to have a license.  
  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, all multiunit rental properties (such as apartment complexes) will be required to have applied for a license. 

  • Beginning Jan. 1, 2024, all single unit rentals will be required to have applied for a license. 

  • In 2022, licensing is voluntary, and applicants will pay a reduced application fee. In 2023, licensing is still voluntary for single units and the application fee will still be reduced.

Who is not required to get a license?

Property owners who live on-site and rent a space or room that does not have its own kitchen and bathroom are not required to obtain a license. Accessory dwelling units and basement apartments with a separate entrance, kitchen and full bathroom are required to obtain a license. 

  • Boarding homes, personal care boarding homes, and non-governmental residential facilities for the treatment or supervision of offenders. 

  • Hotels, rooming houses, and short-term rentals. These likely require a different type of license. See Chapter 33 Lodging Information for additional information regarding these license types.  

  • On-campus college housing.

What is considered paying rent?

Any property owner who receives any type of benefit from a tenant is considered renting. If the tenant does not pay rent and only pays for the utilities they use, a license is not required. If a tenant pays rent, or helps with any portion of the mortgage, property taxes or HOA fees for the property, a license is required.

What happens if I don’t get a license?

Licenses will be required for all rental units (License phasing information). If you are required to have a license and do not obtain one, you will not be able to legally rent your unit. Unlicensed units are also subject to fines and citations.

How can I receive updates about the program?

Will the added expense of the license and home inspection that landlords pay be passed on to renters?

The license is valid for four years and the fees were intentionally kept as low as possible. The inspections are designed to check only for minimum, existing and required health and safety standards so as not to overburden the rental market. Although some property owners could be required to make changes to comply with the city’s minimum housing standards, the city believes everyone has the right to safe and healthy rentals, regardless of where they rent in the city.

Where can I submit feedback related to this license program?

 

Information for applicants

What is required to get a license?

  • A complete license application. 

  • An inspection completed by a qualified third-party inspector who is certified as a home inspector (by the American Society of Home Inspectors, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, or the Master Inspector Certification Board) and certified as an R5, C5 or C8 Combination Building Inspector by the International Code Council.  

  • Copies of the inspector’s certification documentation.  

  • The application fee of $50 ($25 if submitted before Jan. 1, 2023, for multiunit rental properties and before Jan. 1, 2024, for single unit rental properties) and a license fee based on the number of rental units on the property. 

Number of units

Licensing fee

1 dwelling unit on a parcel

$50

2-10 dwelling units on a parcel(s)

$100

11-50 dwelling units on a parcel(s)

$250

51-250 dwelling units on a parcel(s)

$350

251 and more dwelling units on a parcel(s)

$500

If you are applying for a license fee exemption as an affordable housing property, you must provide a legal document that shows the number of income-restricted units on the property and the level of income restriction (for example, 80% of AMI) for those units.

How do I apply for a rental license?

Apply for your license online through Denver's permitting and licensing center.  

 

What are the license and application fees?

Application fee: 
$25
(Application fees are reduced through 2022. The fee will go up to $50 on Jan. 1, 2023.)

License fee:
Based on the number of dwelling units

  • $50: Single dwelling unit
  • $100: 2 to 10 units
  • $250: 11 to 50 units
  • $350: 51 to 250 units
  • $500: 251 or more units

If applying for a fee exemption as a qualifying entity, see "Fee exemption" on the property owners and managers webpage.

What if my ownership is a trust?

An entity registration cannot be in the name of a trust. If your property ownership is a trust, the entity will be registered under the trustee or a member of the trust. Applicants with a trust should use "Sole Proprietor" as the entity type, and a trustee or member name on the application documents.

I have multiple rental properties or multiple addresses for the same complex. Do I need a license for each property or address?

  • Each single-unit property will require an individual license. 

  • For multiunit properties, a single license can be issued for multiple units, addresses, or structures if they are all located on a single or contiguous parcels and under the same ownership. Examples include a duplex/triplex with multiple addresses on a single parcel, two or more townhouses/rowhouses on the same parcel, an apartment complex with multiple buildings with different addresses on one parcel, or a large apartment complex with multiple buildings on two or more contiguous parcels, under one ownership.

Can I submit anything in lieu of the checklist completed by a third-party inspector for my residential rental license application?

Affordable or public housing properties could have their application and licensing fees waived and can submit an alternative inspection report by a government agency if the property meets the exemption qualifications. New construction properties built within the last four years could also qualify for an inspection exemption. More information is on our website.  

 

How do I update contact information on my residential rental license once it is issued?

To update the contact information on your license, submit an amendment to your entity registration. For more information see our online video.

What is landlord responsibility related to providing the tenant rights and resources document?

Under Denver Revised Municipal Code (DRMC) 27-201 and Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) 13-40-104, landlords must provide written notice of tenants' rights and resources document, both at the time of executing a required written lease and any time the owner or operator makes a rent demand.  

There are penalties for noncompliance, so landlords should determine how to comply and be able to show proof of compliance if needed.

How do I find an inspector who meets the qualifications for the residential rental license program?

  • To perform inspections, a person must be: (a) Certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the Master Inspector Certification Board, and (b) certified as an R5, C5, or C8 Combination Building Inspector by the International Code Council (ICC). 

  • A list of qualified inspectors is available but is not all inclusive. It is the responsibility of property owners/managers to confirm that any inspector used is qualified.

Does the inspection include lead pipes and water testing for lead?

There is no requirement to test water lines and water in the residential rental property inspection process. There are no state or federal regulations that require landlords to tell tenants if the property has lead plumbing. Denver Water has programs for customers in its service area, including free testing kits. Contact Denver Water for more information.

How much will the inspection cost?

Because inspections will be performed by third-party inspectors, the cost is not set by the city. Costs will vary based on each inspector’s pricing and (for multiunit properties) the number of units that need to be inspected. The program requires at least 10% of units at a multiunit rental property be inspected (or one if there are fewer than 10 units). Units must be randomly selected by the inspector using a random number generator.

Are licenses transferable?

Residential rental licenses are non-transferable. Residential rental licenses are valid for four years, unless ownership changes.

What do I need to do if I am no longer using my licensed property as a residential rental?

Complete the form to surrender your license.

How do I submit applications as a property manager on behalf of an owner?

Property managers can submit applications on behalf of owners, as long as you create an entity for each property and provide the required owner information for each license application.

What happens if ownership changes at my residential rental property?

A new license is required if ownership changes. Residential rental property licenses are not transferable. If you are required to have a new license and do not obtain one, you will not be able to legally rent your unit. Unlicensed units are also subject to fines and citations.

Does my license need to be posted?

Licenses must be displayed. Excise and Licenses will email a professional license to all licensees. This license (or a clear picture of it) must always be displayed.

Where can I find exemption information?

Information on exemptions is on the property owners and managers information page.

Can a different inspector perform a reinspection of the property?

If a different inspector completes a reinspection of your residential rental property within 90 days of the application, a copy of the reinspection checklist signed by that inspector, and copies of the inspector certifications are required. Inspectors must be qualified to conduct residential rental property inspections.

 

 Information for inspectors

What do inspectors need to provide to customers for residential rental property applications?

  • Copy of completed checklist(s) for property inspected. Checklist must be completed on city-approved form.  

  • Provide copies of certifications – one from each A and B.  

(a) Certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the Master Inspector Certification Board, and  

(b) Certified as an R5, C5, or C8 Combination Building Inspector by the International Code Council (ICC)

Looking for opportunities for financial assistance in becoming a qualified inspector?

Through Denver Workforce Services, qualified businesses can access subsidies in exchange for providing new employees with training and needed experience. New employees can be eligible to receive up to $500 in supportive services through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Eligibility requirements must be met for new employees to receive WIOA funding. For more information, connect with Denver Workforce Services.

Looking for more guidance as an inspector?

Refer to your certification agencies for information on best practices, including ethics, standards of practice, records retention and other.