Jimmi Badger (jimmi_obadger) wrote in anarcholandlord,
Jimmi Badger

a legal thought problem

This is a purely hypothetical situation, of course, and this post is intended only to satisfy my own curiosity. Obviously.


Philadelphia's revised code pertaining to Business Privilege Licenses states that, if three or fewer units in a property are rented out for residential purposes, AND the property is also the primary residence of the owner, the owner is not required to obtain a Business Privilege License for rental income.

Furthermore, if a property is used entirely for residential purposes, Use and Occupancy tax does not apply. Furthermore, if a building (or portions thereof) is rented to multiple tenants, Use and Occupancy tax is only assessed on the portions of the building rented for the sole use of a given tenant or tenants; common areas such as hallways, bathrooms, basements, exterior areas, and other shared or utility spaces are explicitly excluded. If business activities are carried out using equipment in a common space, without reserving a portion of said space for the exclusive use of the business owner, U&O does not apply. (The example given is very dated: If a vendor places a cigarette vending machine in a hotel lobby and walks through the space to use the machine, it is not taxable. If a vendor sets up a small kiosk in a hotel lobby and reserves that space to sell cigarettes, it is taxable.)

In order to obtain a Certificate of Rental Suitability, one must provide Housing Inspection License OR the BRT's "official address" for the property. (Stop me if i'm wrong, but doesn't every property have an official address? This makes me think that "Official Address" has some special nonsensical legal meaning.)

In order to obtain a Housing Inspection License, one must supply L&I with proof of a current BPL.

For the purposes of this hypothetical argument, suppose i live in a large house. The owners of this house have exclusive use of one room. Three rooms are rented out to unrelated tenants; those individuals or couples each have exclusive use of a room. The other five rooms, the bathrooms and hallways, and the basement and exterior of the property are common or utility spaces, as defined by the section of code covering Use and Occupancy taxes on rental property. Two housemates have cottage industries, but these are run out of common space and rely on equipment which is available for use of all residents.

Since no area of the property is reserved specifically for business endeavors, and those areas which are reserved for specific individuals are purely residential, U&O taxes are not an issue. And since the property is for all intents and purposes purely residential, and it is owner-occupied, and three units are rented, the owner is not required to obtain a BPL.

Since the property owner is not required to obtain a BPL, and cannot obtain an HIL without a BPL, and needs an HIL to obtain a Certificate, does this property owner actually need a Certificate? If so, is this the case in which a "BRT Official Address" (assuming that an "Official Address" is what it sounds like) is sufficient? And since, in November 2008, Mayor Nutter suspended the 2006 law requiring the Certificate, and this law will apparently remain suspended for the foreseeable future, and it was only ever enforceable if someone went whining to the city in the first place, does any of it even really matter?

Only marginally related, and rather less hypothetical: what do you do if, say, you did a bunch of member-credit hours one year at Mariposa and received an I9 and the City noticed so you had to get a BPL so you could pay taxes on your store credit, and didn't know any better so you got the permanent BPL instead of the annual one, and now you don't want the BPL anymore because you haven't earned a taxable amount of member credit hours and you really very much do not want to have to file every year for the rest of your life saying you didn't use your Philadelphia BPL that year, how do you get rid of it? The BPL, i mean, not the store credit or Philadelphia or the BRT or your life. Because there used to be a piece of paper you could file saying you weren't doing business anymore and could your BPL please be canceled, but the City got rid of that in 2006.

Stupid L&I. Stupid BRT. Stupid city.

Umm... i keep meaning to post an upbeat shared housing story, because someone asked a while ago. And this ain't it, babe. No, no, no, this ain't it.
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