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An End of Year Checklist for DC Landlords: Things to Consider for 2014 and Beyond 

For DC landlords, the end of the year is a good time consider your status with DC government and any problems you are having with tenants, as well as updating and improving the systems that keep your business going. Going through the following checklist should give you some ideas of what to work on for 2014. 
1) Licensing. Do you hand your Basic Business License from DCRA?  Do you need a Certificate of Occupancy?  You should have a Rent Control Exemption or Registration Number from the Office of the Rent Administrator.  If your licensing isn't in order, enforcing your lease may be impossible and you could be fined. Make it a goal for the year and if you think you might have problems that would keep you from getting licensed, like ceiling height problems, zoning issues, or Housing Code violations, talk to an attorney before you start the process. 
2) Condition of the Property. If you haven't done a complete inspection within the last year schedule one with the tenant immediately. If you find problems with the property you can resolve them and if you find problems with the tenant you can decide how to proceed. 
3) Rent Level. If your licensing is in order and you've seen the property, start looking atcomparable properties in the area and see if you are charging market rents. If not, and you are exempt from rent control, start thinking about the pros and cons of a rent increase.  Are you making a profit?
4) The tenant. Is the lease up to date and if not, would the tenant be willing to sign a new lease? Do you feel comfortable with the tenant and are you happy to keep them around?  If not, rememberthat DC law does not allow you to end a tenancy because a lease ends. Do you need to discuss any issues with the tenant? 
5) The Lease and Application. If you are planning to get any new tenants for any of your properties this year, when was the last time your lease was updated?  Contact us if you think it's time for some changes or a new lease. 


6) Record Keeping. How is your system for recording when rent is paid, providing receipts to tenants when requested, and tracking all the expenses related to your property for tax and legal purposes?  What about keeping track of communication with the tenant?  The new year is a great time to start or commit to using a new system and there are lots of things out there to make these jobs earlier now.  

7. Delegation and/or Plans for Growth. This is a great time to decide if you want to hand things the financial management over to a CPA, the property management over to a firm, or keep doing everything yourself. Are your circumstances the same as they were a year ago or two years ago?  Are you more or less able to handle the day to day? Are you considering buying more property and expanding your business this year and if so what considerations go into that?  

Let us know if we can be of service during this process.  

Just knowing where you want to be in a year and having a sense of your budget, your profits, and your goals, will let you sleep better at night.  



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