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What do you need to rent a house in Philadelphia?

Having a rental property in Philadelphia is already an achievement and even if you have a rental property anywhere, in this post, we are going to focus on what documents you need to rent a property legally in Philadelphia and what you need to have to legally collect rent in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia it’s a specific place and they have a lot of laws and ordinances that you need to follow. We know that as a landlord and an investor, as soon as you get your rental property you would want to or you’d like to place a tenant as soon as possible to start collecting the rent but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, and before you do, you need to make sure that you follow all the rules and procedures in your locality, in this instance in Philadelphia, to make sure that you are legally renting your property and able to collect rent and if it comesbu to that to evict your tenant.

So, first things first, before you can rent your property in Philadelphia you need to get a rental license but before you can apply for a rental license there are a few things that you need to do, first, you will need to get your business tax account number (BIRT) and commercial activity license. A lot of people mistakenly think that a commercial activity license is your rental license which is not true, after you get your commercial activity license you will also need to get a rental license.

Both commercial activity license and business tax account number (BIRT) are just something that you get once, you do it for the first time and they stay with you until you close them, but a rental license it’s something that you need to renew every year, so every year in city Philadelphia you will need to renew your rental license and there is a fee associated with that, which is at the moment of writing this post 56$ a unit a year.

All of those licenses and numbers can be obtained online and we will put the links in the comments below for you to go and see how you can apply for your licenses and numbers and be able to rent your property legally.

Once you sort out your business tax account number (BIRT) and commercial activity license, now you would be able to apply for a rental license but before your rental license can be approved you will have to provide the city of Philadelphia with a certificate of lead-safe or lead-free status for your property, which means that you need to send out a certified inspector to your property to do the test and send some samples to a lab after that if everything is alright the inspector will provide you with the certificate which you will need to upload in the city system and after the city accepts your certificate and the results, then your rental license will be able to be completed or to be approved and issued.

After you get your business tax account number (BIRT), commercial activity license and the lead certificate uploaded to the city portal, now you can go ahead and apply for a rental license, and most often it’s either issued instantly. Sometimes there are delays and we’ve seen clients waiting for 10, or 15 days until the rental license gets approved but usually, it happens pretty fast.

To apply for a rental license you will need to have your Philadelphia eCLIPSE portal so once you get your rental license you think that’s it and that’s enough and you can rent your property but the city of Philadelphia thinks differently and before you can legally collect rent you have to provide your tenants with some other documents along with the rental suitability certificate or certificate of rental suitability, without that certificate you cannot legally collect the rent the n city of Philadelphia so make sure that if you do not have the certificate get it right now and send it to your tenant because if you go to court they will look at the date of the certificate and only moving forward from that date you can collect rent, anything that was before that date you may not be able to collect from your tenants.

You can consult with your attorney about that and please consult with tax professionals before you apply for your business tax account number (BIRT) and commercial activity license because if you own your property in LLC or corporation or any other entity you need to make sure you apply for your licenses correctly.

After you have your certificate of rental suitability you also will need to provide your tenants with:

Partners for good housing pamphlet from the city of Philadelphia.
Protect your family from lead in your home federal pamphlet.
Bad bug pamphlet from the city of Philadelphia.

So now you have a package of the documents that you need to provide to your tenants along with your lease and you’re ready to sign your lease so once you select the screen and select your tenant you provide them all of these documents you sign your list and you should be good to go unless you have a multi-family or three units and more.

Depending on your situation there are maybe other requirements that you need to be sure to comply with for instance if you have three units and more you are supposed to have a hard-wired central fire alarm in the building and the fire alarm along with the fire extinguisher need to be inspected or certified every year by a certain certified professional or licensed professional and if you have multi-family properties there are maybe a little bit more documents that you need to sign along with the lease to make sure that everything is covered.

If you have any questions feel free to contact us and we would be glad to help you out with this our contact is contact number is 267-929-1500 or you can reach us at our website

Here are the links mentioned:

Overview of how to get a rental license…

Business Income and Receipts Tax…

Commercial Activity License…

Lead certification portal…

Eclipse system to get rental license and suitability certificate


I am a real estate investor in Philadelphia and could not be more happy with Yuriy and the rest of the team. Yuriy himself has over 10 years experience as an investor himself and his knowledge of the geographic region has been critical to our decision making. We are currently using Yuriy as our realtor and as our property manager. He is responsive, knowledgeable, and easy to work with. He has saved us from multiple potential bad situations in looking for investments. Because of his attention to detail, our closings have been very smooth. We also have to do most of our investing out of state and the Trustart team makes it easy. I would highly recommend Yuriy and the Trustart team as a realtor or property manager for anyone in Philadelphia - we are lucky we found them when we did!

Kealan Hobelmann Rental Property Owner