A program the city says will help it keep track of its rental stock and enforce better living conditions kicks off this week

Licenses will be required for places like apartment buildings.
2 min. read
Apartments on Morrison Road in Westwood. Aug. 21, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The city will start accepting rental licensing applications this week, giving landlords a chance to pay half the price for an application fee before the licenses become a requirement next year.

City licensing department spokesperson Eric Escudero said the early application phase, which starts March 10, will give people a head start on the licensing process. Last May, Denver City Council voted to require all landlords to get licenses to rent out their properties. Lawmakers said this would help the city get a clearer picture of its rental stock and enforce better living conditions.

The law is prompting the largest expansion of licensing in the city's history. Escudero said the city is anticipating 42,000 rental licenses will be issued, or nearly seven times as many licenses it has for security guards, which is currently the most-issued license. The office added two staff members last year and expects to add more staff this year to handle this new licensing program.

Inspections will be required to get a license. Brian Strandes, director at Colorado Compliance Inspections, said he started his business after Denver passed its rental licensing law to provide inspection services. He wants to add at least two inspectors this year to his company. He's affiliated with the Apartment Association of Metro Denver, which opposed the licensing law.

"Right now, our goal is pretty much education," Strandes said.

The program will be rolled out in phases. Starting Jan 1., 2023, licenses will be required for residential properties of two or more units, which would include apartment buildings or complexes, condos and rowhomes. Landlords renting out single-family homes or a single condo or rowhome unit must be licensed by January 2024.

Escudero said the city is incentivizing people to apply now by lowering the application fee to $25, before increasing to the normal $50 rate next year. The licenses are good for four years, while fee exemptions will be available for affordable or public-housing properties. The license itself will cost an additional $50 per unit, with prices increasing for properties will multiple units.

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