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DENVER (KDVR) — With the arrival of the new year, a new licensing law for Denver’s residential rental properties is going into effect.

Denver City Council passed the ordinance on May 3, 2021. It requires landlords to acquire a residential rental property license.

As of Jan. 1, the ordinance will be enforced. Landlords who have not begun the licensing process are subject to penalties, including fines and citations.

“The goal of the program is to proactively enforce minimum required housing standards to ensure public health, safety, and welfare,” according to the city. “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.”

Is my Denver rental home supposed to be licensed?

The ordinance requires that landlords’ rental properties pass an inspection from a third-party inspector in order to obtain a rental property license.

Those offering property rentals must first complete a licensed establishment application, which validates the property’s location and the managers responsible for it. They also have to submit an entity registration application, which verifies the entity or person responsible for operating the rental properties.

After these steps are completed, the landlord can submit a passed inspection in order to receive their rental property license. Renters in multi-unit properties should be aware that the ordinance requires only 10% of the units to pass inspection before the properties are considered in compliance.

So which properties are required to get licensed? The ordinance specifically mentions that it applies to any landlord offering more than one rental unit for 30 days. Starting in 2024, the ordinance will expand to encompass those landlords who operate any residential rental property unit.

Tenants can check if their residential rental property is licensed through the city’s permitting website, under business licenses. More resources for Denver renters, such as guides on tenant rights, can be found here.

How many Denver landlords have gotten licensed?

FOX31 reported in December 2022 that only 3% of rental property owners were in compliance with the ordinance at that time, with just 1,104 licenses issued for about 25,000 multi-unit properties in the city.

Eric Escudero, spokesperson for Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses, said on Tuesday that the number had inched up, reaching 2,004 active residential rental licenses in Denver.

“Of the 2,004 active licenses, 1,434 are licenses for multi-unit rental properties at one address and 570 are for single-unit rental properties,” Escudero told FOX31.

Escudero also emphasized that the licensing process is relatively inexpensive.

“The license is good for four years. So it does not have to be renewed every year,” he said. The four-year license costs $50, the one-time application fee is another $50, and the cost of a third-party inspector, he said, costs an estimated $150-$200.

“So over a four-year period, the license would cost around $5 per month in that scenario. For the largest apartment units in Denver with 251 or more units, the license costs $500 and a one-time $50 application fee and whatever the inspection company charges,” Escudero said.