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3 Steps to Navigate Denver's Residential Rental License Program

3 Steps to Navigate Denver's Residential Rental License Program

If “Get Denver Rental License” has been sitting on your “To Do” list for way too long this post can help you get it checked off!

Not only will the post help you get it done, we’ll also provide you with the inspectors you need, give you tips and tricks to save you time and give you a deal that will save you money just for being a Scoop reader!

We just completed the process successfully for one of our Denver rentals and we’re starting the process to help our property management clients as well. So we wouldn’t say we’re experts on this process yet, but we’ve been through it and we’ve learned some things we’ll share with you to make the process as painless as possible.

As we continue to go through the process for more clients we’ll continue to update this and share what we learn.

At Focus Real Estate Property Management we manage single family homes, townhomes and condos in Denver’s Central Park neighborhood and the surrounding areas. So this post is geared towards landlords that have those types of homes, it’s not geared to help those with larger multifamily properties. By the way, if you sign up with us for property management you can skip the rest of post… we’ll navigate this process for you at no extra charge, other than paying for your own inspection and license application.  (Here is our Services and Pricing page.)

A few quick things to cover before we jump in…

First, the post should not be taken as legal advice.  I’m going to share the information, tips and tricks that I’ve learned through navigating this process myself. Your property, your home inspector and your ownership structure may be different so you may have a different experience.

Second, the rules for this program have been evolving and will likely continue to evolve.  To make sure you’re always looking at the most current rules here is a link to Denver’s website for this program.  

Third, there are a few types of landlords that don’t need to do the entire process we outline below.  If you have a Certificate of Occupancy from the last 4 years (which means your home is less than 4 years old) you’re exempt!  You’d still need to go through the application part of the process but you can skip the first 2 steps below.  Also, if you only rent your property out for less than 30 days at a time you don’t need this license, you need a short term rental license.

Ok, for the rest of you… let’s get your Denver rental license done!

3 Steps to Get Your Denver Rental License

We’ve broken the process into three main steps, which are outlined below.  In each step we’ll include some tips and tricks based on our experiences.  It’s important that you go through the 3 steps in the correct order or you can waste time and money.

1. Pre-Inspection of your Property:

The first step is to pre-inspect your property and make sure it’s in good shape so it will pass the actual inspection you have to do in step 2.  Why do this pre-inspection first?  We suggest doing this first because if during your actual inspection they find you have non-compliant items, such as expired smoke detectors, you may have to pay the inspector to come and re-inspect the property after the non-compliant items are corrected.  Save yourself some money and time by  preparing your property to pass inspection the first time.

Ok so how do you do this pre-inspection?

Denver has created a “ Rental Program Inspection Checklist Guidebook”, but this document is long.  The goal of this post is to save you time.  So with that in mind, I created this quick Denver Rental License Pre Inspection Checklist.  My checklist isn’t going to cover every single item in detail, it’s going to condense the guidance Denver provided and just address the items that are likely to cause you to fail the inspection.  If you have a multifamily property, an older home with those old home “quirks” I’d suggest you read the entire Denver Checklist I provided above. 

Go through your rental using my checklist above and ask yourself all the questions in it. If you find any issues fix them then move on to step 2 below.

If you’re already thinking, “I’d love to offload this to someone else”, we’re here to help! Below is a button where you can schedule a chat about our property management services!

Schedule a Chat about our Property Management Services

2. Property Inspection:

Now that you’ve pre-inspected the home it’s time to get an inspector who is certified in the Denver Rental License program to inspect your home. You can find their current list online, but I’ve already reached out to 4 that I’d suggest and put their contact info and pricing below for you! (**and I’ve negotiated a deal for you as Scoop reader**)

I used Denver Rental Property Inspections and had a good experience with Tom.  He was easy to book with, punctual and professional. He lives in Central Park so he’s familiar with the homes and he has the best price compared to the others.  My suspicion is he is able to be so competitive on cost because he’s not a big company with lots of employees and overhead… but none of that matters to you as a landlord going through this process. I suspect with this pricing he’ll get busy… so maybe get on his schedule for sooner rather than later.

Denver Rental Property Inspections

Tom Unterwagner

(720) 385-7434


Inspection Cost:  $149 if you mention “Central Park Scoop” ($179 regularly)

Reinspection Cost:  $59

Jordan Van Voorst – Checkup Property Inspections LLC

(720) 751 – 7121


Inspection Cost: $199

Reinspection Cost: $0 (no reinspection fee)

Axium Inspections

(719) 301-6615


Inspection Cost: $194

Reinspection Cost: $194

Scott Home Inspections

(303) 373-2424


Inspection Cost: $195

Reinspection Cost: $125

Once you pass your inspection they will provide you with all the paperwork that you need to then go forward with the city license application in step 3. 

What happens if you fail for non-compliance on an item?  If this happens you need to have the home re-inspected and it can cost from $59 – $195 based on the inspectors I spoke with. This reinspection must happen within 90 days so you can move forward with the application within that timeframe, otherwise you have to do a completely new inspection.  So once you start the process see it through and get it done in 90 days.

3. License Application with Denver:

Ok you’ve now completed your pre-inspection, fixed any issues and passed your third-party inspection. Great, now it’s time to apply for the Denver rental license!

Unfortunately, this can be the trickiest part because the online system is clunky and at times confusing.  (Sorry Denver, but it’s true!) It is what is though, so let’s work through it and get it done.

Things you’ll need for your application: 

  • Pictures of the front of IDs for all property owners combined in one PDF
  • Articles of Organization (if you own the property in an LLC)
  • Completed third party Inspection checklist showing you’ve passed
  • Certificate showing your inspector is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) or the Master Inspector Certification Board.  (Don’t worry, your inspector will also give you this after your inspection!)
  • Certificate showing your inspector is certified as an R5, C5, or C8 Combination Building Inspector by the International Code Council (ICC). (Don’t worry, your inspector will also give you this after your inspection!)

Overview of the application process:

Denver created this 40+ minute video to explain the application process.  If you prefer not to watch a video that long you can just start the application process below and use my tips and tricks to get you through it. 

Tip:  40 minutes is a long! If you do choose to watch the video below is a screenshot showing you the gear you can click on below the video to adjust playback speed to 1.5x  or 2.0x speed.

Tip:  As you work on the application you can always click “Save and Resume within 30 days” on the bottom left side. If you do this be sure to then also log out or it will time out and you’ll lose your saved work! 

How to apply:

Ok let’s do this!

I’m not going to show you every step of the process below, but I’m going to explain a few of the points in the process that I found confusing.

Go to Denver’s Online Permitting and Licensing Center and create a new account.

Once you create your account and log in go here:

After that go here:

Once you’re here you’ll get into the application and most of it is self-explanatory.

As you work your way through the process you’ll hit the screen below that shows you’ll be completing three separate applications within the overall application.  This is correct, so don’t let that concern you.

Here are tips about each of these 3 applications you’ll be completing:

Entity Registration Application – This section is all about your ownership of the rental property. 

Tip: Early in the process it will ask you if you completed an entity registration.  If this is your first time doing the process just say no and it will help you complete it later in the process. 

Tip: Even if you own the property as an individual you have to register as an entity. (This isn’t just for LLCs, etc., it’s for everyone.)

Tip: If you own the property as a “trust” there is no option to state that, so Denver suggests you select the “sole proprietor” option and then use one of the trustee names as the name on the license application.

Licensed Establishment Application – This section is all about your property.  Licensed establishment makes it sound like you’re running a bar but it’s just referring to the rental property.

Tip:  It will require you to enter information for an “On Site Manager”.  Even if no one is on site at your rental you still have to enter a contact and for most landlords that will be yourself.

Tip:  At one one point it will ask you if you Own or Rent the property.  As landlord you should select “own”.  (Even though you rent it out… the answer is you “own” it.)

Residential License Application – This section is all about providing the information needed to actually get the license.  In this section you’ll submit all the required documentation, including the completed inspection and the two inspector certifications.

Tip:  It’s going to ask you questions about your inspector’s various certifications.  Just refer to the paperwork the inspector gave you and you’ll be able to locate it easily.

Tip:  This section is also where you can provide documentation of your exemptions from getting this license.  (For example, if your home is less than 4 years old.)

Once you have completed all three applications you can then submit!

Once you submit you will need to pay.  It would be nice if there was a big “Pay” button at the end but there isn’t, so read their instructions carefully to make your payment.

Right now the cost for a single unit property application is $75.  It’s $150 total for licensing a 2-10 unit property.

Once you pay Denver then has 7 -10 days to respond with approval or to request more information.  Either way, they will communicate with you about this via the email you provided.

Once you get your license save it and going forward remember to get your license # in all your for rent ads!

Congrats on getting your license!  Hopefully this post has helped you through the process.  

If we can be of service please let us know.  We help busy people make smart housing decisions in and around Central Park.  That includes buying, selling, renting or helping with property management.  We’d love to help!

Joe Phillips

Managing Broker

Focus Real Estate Property Management

(720) 299-1730