Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Seattle's Rental Inspection Program

As Seattle goes, so goes the rest of the state....

This is true for much statewide legislation, including regulations related to rent control. While Seattle's Rental Inspection program is not technically rent control, it is a new initiative just now being implemented to inspect ALL rental units within the city of Seattle. Several other jurisdictions within Washington State are eyeing this program for possible consideration in their own municipalities.

So here is the description of the inspection program from the City of Seattle's website:
The Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) helps ensure that all rental housing in Seattle is safe and meets basic housing maintenance requirements. The program will educate property owners, managers, and renters about City housing codes and their responsibilities; and require owners to verify their properties meet these standards when registering with the City.

  • The Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance requires landlords to register all rental housing units in Seattle, from single-family houses to large apartment buildings.
  • Exceptions to the registration requirement include commercial lodging, state-licensed facilities such as adult family homes, and housing owned by government groups or by housing authorities such as Seattle Housing Authority.
  • Landlords must register their properties according to the following schedule:
    • All properties with 10 or more units should have registered by September 30, 2014. If you own one of these properties and have not yet registered, you will be assessed a $20 late fee and you may be subject to additional penalties and fees.
    • All properties with 5 to 9 rental housing units should have registered by March 31, 2015.
    • All properties with 1 to 4 rental housing units will be registered from 2015 to 2016. Specific deadlines for these properties are based on the ZIP code where the property is located.
  • Registrations must be renewed every 5 years.
  • The ordinance requires that all registered rental properties be inspected at least once every 10 years.
  • The owner must hire a qualified rental housing inspector or City inspector to do the inspections.
  • Rental properties with prior enforcement action will be inspected early in the program.
Several property owners at the recent Trends NW trade show indicated that they had already been required to do inspections.

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