Author Topic: Legalizing Basement Rental with Unpermitted Renovations  (Read 898 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 23
  • Location: Washington, DC
Legalizing Basement Rental with Unpermitted Renovations
« on: July 16, 2015, 11:59:44 AM »
I live in D.C., and we recently purchased a home with a basement that would make a great rental.  We just finished cosmetic renovations to our basement (new flooring, ceiling, walls), and our contractor told us that the existing electrical/plumbing work was fine and up to code.  Problem is the previous owner never obtained permits for the previous (good) work. 

According to the agency's checklist, the basement should pass an inspection, but we fear the previous unpermitted work may be problematic for an inspector.  Does anyone have experience with inspectors and unpermitted work (especially if done before you took possession)?  Any words of wisdom in deciding whether or not to submit ourselves to the whims of the city?  It would be terrible to tear everything out to show an inspector the plumbing/electrical/building materials behind the walls/ceilings.  I think if this were the case, we would just take our chances and rent it out illegally (like the majority of DC basement rentals).   


  • Bristles
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  • Posts: 396
  • Age: 61
  • Location: Eagan, MN
    • No Nonsense Landlord
Re: Legalizing Basement Rental with Unpermitted Renovations
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2015, 12:45:26 PM »
If you have to evict over a non-paying tenant, and the Court finds out you did not have a rental permit/license, you may have to refund 100% of the rent.

Just get the inspection.  My past rental inspections, not in DC, are only to guarantee the space is safe and sound.  Not to check if everything is up to code and was permitted.