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.

License implementation

  • As of Jan. 1, 2022, the owner or operator of the residential rental property must give a copy of Tenant Rights and Resources(PDF, 87KB) (Spanish version can be found here(PDF, 88KB)) to the tenant when the lease is signed and if rent demand is served. It summarizes some of the rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in Denver.   

  • As of Jan. 1, 2023, a license is required for anyone offering, providing, or operating a residential rental property consisting of two or more rental dwelling units on a single parcel. For example, this would require a license for a single apartment building, an apartment complex, or a duplex where both units are rented. A passing inspection from a certified, private home inspector is required as well as the license fee. The license is good for four years unless ownership changes.  

  • Starting Jan 1, 2024, a license will be required for anyone offering, providing, or operating a residential rental property consisting of a single rental dwelling unit on a single parcel. For example, this would require a license for a single-family home for rent or a triplex where one unit is for rent. A passing inspection from a certified, private home inspector is required as well as the license fee. The license is good for four years unless ownership changes.  Single-unit property application fees are reduced to $25 through 2023.

Can I check if a property has a residential rental license?

The residential rental license is being phased in by the number of units owned by an owner at a property. As of Jan. 1, 2023, a license is required for anyone offering, providing, or operating a residential rental property consisting of two or more rental dwelling units on a single parcel.

You can check if a residential rental property has a license by going to Denver’s online permitting center at https://www.denvergov.org/AccelaCitizenAccess/. Click on business licenses in the top menu of items. Then type in the address to find out if there is a license. If you have any questions about residential rentals email licenses@denvergov.org or call 311.

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) must have a license.  
  • As of 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 2023, licensing is voluntary for single units and applicants will pay a reduced application fee.

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. Applications must be submitted within 90 days of the initial inspection.

  • Copies of the inspector’s certification documentation.  

  • Application and license fees.

  • For fee and inspection exemption information please see Property owners and managers page.

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: 
$50
(Single-unit property application fees are reduced to $25 through 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.

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.

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.  

 

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 and reinspections will be performed by third-party inspectors, the cost is not set by the city. Costs for inspections and reinspections will vary based on each inspector’s pricing and (for multiunit properties) the number of units that need to be inspected and possibly reinspected. 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.

If I would like to remove a unit from my residential rental license, what do I do?

To remove one or more units from your residential rental license, email licenses@denvergov.org.

Adding one or more units to your license requires a new application. 

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.