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Seattle Landlords Register Your Units

Seattle Landlords: Register Your Units

The Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) was established by the Seattle City Council in fall 2012. The ordinance requires Seattle landlords to register their rental units—in cases where the property has five or more units the deadline was March 31, 2015.  Every unit that is rented in Seattle must be registered according to the published schedule, with some notable exceptions including commercial lodging and adult family homes. See the rental registration website for details on exceptions. 

Safety and Maintenance

The ordinance is an effort to improve the housing conditions within the city and ensure basic safety and maintenance.  Every unit available for rent will be inspected over the next 10 years to ensure habitability.  Inspections will be conducted by a professional and the results will be kept on file at the Department of Planning and Development.

Next Steps

Landlords must ensure all housing units are up to code and well-maintained.  The checklist used by the inspector is available online and is similar to a move-in checklist. Owners will be notified when a property has been selected for inspection. Owners may hire either a City inspector or qualified private inspector to conduct inspections for a fee. The approximate inspection fee is $130 for the property including the first unit, and $25 for each additional unit on the same property.

One of the effects of the new ordinance is that illegal units including unauthorized “mother-in-law” or accessory dwelling units will be found and shut down.  Landlords are strongly advised to confirm their rental units are legal and properly zoned. A landlord may be required to pay relocation assistance if a property is determined to be illegal or uninhabitable.

Non-Compliance

There is a $20 late fee and the potential for significant monetary penalties for not registering rental units in compliance with the new ordinance.  Tenants will now be able to research and find out if a unit is habitable, legal, and registered—and report to the City if the rental is not in compliance. Further, landlords may be prohibited from evicting tenants if the rental is unregistered with the Department of Planning and Development, regardless of whether just cause exists.

Registration Fees and Deadlines

The cost to register the first rental unit for five years is $175.00.  Each additional unit costs only $2.00 to register, with a modest per unit discount after 10 units.  Rental registrations must be renewed every five years. Every rental must be registered, so if you add a unit, you must also add a registration.

Properties with five or more units should already be registered as of March 31, 2015. For properties with 1-4 units, there is a registration deadline schedule based on ZIP codes available online.

For tips or help on how to comply with this ordinance, contact the Seattle Department of Planning and Development or your legal resource.

Checklist: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cs/groups/pan/@pan/documents/web_informational/s048492.pdf

Registration table by zip code for units 1-4: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/cs/groups/pan/@pan/documents/web_informational/s047748.pdf

For more information visit: http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/codesrules/codes/rentalregistration/

Important: The Loeffler Law Group PLLC provides this information as a courtesy without any claim as to its effectiveness or legality. Use of the information in this hand-out does not in any way create an attorney-client relationship between the user and any party associated with the Loeffler Law Group PLLC.

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