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Renting in Seattle

  • Seattle has rules on landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities.

What Is It?

In Seattle, residential rental units must be maintained to ensure:

  • Structural integrity and security
  • Proper heat and ventilation
  • Functional electrical equipment
  • Fire safety
  • Proper exits

We respond to your complaint by visiting your unit and determining whether it meets code requirements. These rules are enforced by housing and zoning inspectors.

Our code also contains rules about landlords' and tenants' rights and responsibilities and when a landlord can end a rental agreement. Our Property Owner and Tenant Assistance unit enforces these rules.

The tenant protections found on this Renting in Seattle page advance the goals of the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda(HALA).

What It Isn’t

This section does not cover the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance, a program that requires landlords to register all rental housing units in Seattle, from single-family houses to large apartment buildings.

The Washington State Residential Landlord-Tenant Act, Chapter 59.18 RCW, regulates the landlord-tenant relationship in Washington. The City of Seattle does not enforce this law.

Rules to Follow

Our ordinance requires that: 

  • Owners maintain rental properties so they meet code standards for health and safety
  • Owners and tenants follow rules regarding the upkeep of residential rentals
  • Owners do not evict tenants without having a just cause for eviction

Read the Code

You can learn more about landlord-tenant issues on our eviction, prohibited acts, and illegal living units pages. You can get more information from the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) section on housing and building maintenance standards, SMC 22.200 - 22.208.


Penalties for most code violations are $150 for the first ten days and $500 per day thereafter.

What Do You Want To Do?

Still Need Help?

 Ask Us

  • Call us at (206) 615-0808
  • Visit Code Compliance
    700 Fifth Ave., 19th floor
    M - F: 8:00 a.m - 5:00 p.m