Seattle Requires Landlords to Register With the Department of Planning and Development

The City of Seattle’s relatively recent Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (Seattle Municipal Code (“SMC”) 22.214) requires most landlords that provide rental housing to be registered with the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development between 2014 and 2016, depending on the number of rental housing units on the property. After 2016, renting without being currently registered will be prohibited. This blog provides a brief summary of the ordinance.

All rental housing units, which include even single-room rentals, must register with the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development between the beginning of 2014 and the end of 2016. Exceptions to this requirement include but are not limited to hospitals, hotels, and housing units owned by housing authorities. Some vacation rental units are exempted from registration. See SMC Section 22.214.030 for a complete list of the types of properties exempt from registration.

The schedule for registration generally goes as follows. See SMC Section 22.214.040 for more details.

  • By July 1, 2014 – all properties with 10 or more rental housing units
  • By January 1, 2015 – all properties with 5 to 9 rental housing units
  • By December 31, 2016 – all properties with 1 to 4 rental housing units

Registrations must be renewed every five years, and the new registration must be delivered to the tenants or posted in a prominent location.  A person purchasing property subject to the ordinance must pay a registration transfer fee and update the current registration within 60 days of purchasing the property.  This purchase provision includes the situation when an owner entity changes at least 50% of its ownership.

One of the main points of Seattle’s Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance is to require the rental properties to be inspected.  The goal of the ordinance is to have each property inspected within the first ten years.  However, the owner must hire a certified inspector for the inspection; the registration fees will not cover the inspection.  The certified inspector will issue a certificate of compliance if the property passes the inspection.

Please see Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development website for more information, and contact me or an attorney at MPBA for any assistance you may need for leasing in the City of Seattle or anywhere in Washington.

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