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Rental Registration & Inspection Ordinance

Improving and preserving safe and healthy housing for all Seattle renters.

Requirements for Owners & Managers

We have two primary requirements for rental housing property owners:

  1. Rental housing properties (with a few exceptions) must be registered with the RRIO program.
  2. Rental housing properties are selected, and must complete an inspection requirement at least once every 10 years.

We have other RRIO provisions, such as enforcement, that may apply.

Click on the bars below to learn about the key parts of RRIO for property owners and managers.

 

How to Register Your Property

The best way to register your property is to use our new online registration program. Please read the instructions listed below before you register. You may also register in person or by mail using the Registration Form in the list below. When you register your property, you will be asked to declare that the property and available rental units meet the standards described in the RRIO Checklist.

When are the Registration Due Dates?

Rental properties must be registered by the following due dates:

  • 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 – 9 units must be registered by March 31, 2015.
  • Single-family, duplex, triplex, and fourplex properties with rental units will be registered throughout 2015 and 2016. We will base specific deadlines for these properties on the ZIP code where the property is located. See our complete schedule to find out when you need to register your property.

Some government-owned, government-operated, and institutional rental housing may not need to be registered. Find out if your property may meet the registration exceptions.

What You Will Need

To register a property, you will need some basic information about the property:

  • The parcel number for the rental property, which can be found on the King County Assessor's website. If you check the box at the bottom, you will be taken to a page where you can enter your property address to receive your parcel number.
  • Three contact types for each property registered: Applicant, Owner(s), and Tenant Contact for Repair.
  • The number of rental units on your property.

What are the Registration Fees?

The fee is $175 for a property and its first rental unit, plus $2 for each additional unit. For example:

  • A 1-unit rental property, like a single-family home, is $175
  • A 2-unit rental property is $177
  • A 10-unit property is $193

Payments can be made by credit card, check, or cash. Our online registration system only accepts payment by credit card. If you wish to pay your registration fee using a check after registering online (but before payment), follow these instructions for paying by check. Once you have registered, you will receive a receipt and a RRIO registration certificate.

Your RRIO registration is good for five years from the date you register your property. You are required to post your RRIO registration certificate in a common area of your rental property or give a copy to each tenant.

RRIO Inspections

We require all rental properties to be inspected periodically, or show that they meet the inspection requirement some other way. Every month, we will notify a random selection of property owners that we have selected their property for inspection. Our notice will indicate which units will be inspected, and will give you at least 60 days to have the inspection completed.

Meeting the RRIO Inspection Requirement

When you receive a Notice of Required Inspection, you have three ways to meet the inspection requirement:

1. Complete a RRIO Inspection

  • Hiring an Inspector: You may hire City inspectors or qualified private inspectors to complete an inspection.
    • To hire a City inspector, call (206) 684-4110 and select option 3 when prompted. City inspections cost $130, which includes the first unit. Inspections for more than one unit costs an additional $25 per unit.
    • To hire a qualified private inspector, choose one from this list of available private inspectors. Private inspectors set their own rates.
  • Notifying Renters: Once you have scheduled an inspection, you must give your renters at least two days notice of the inspection. You may prepare your notices using this Notification to Tenants of a RRIO Inspection template.
  • Passing the Inspection: Once your property passes the RRIO inspection, you will receive a Certificate of Compliance. If you hired a City inspector, you are done. If you hired a private inspector, you must submit the Certificate of Compliance to the RRIO Program. Instructions for submitting your documents are listed below.
  • Failing the Inspection: If your property does not pass the inspection, you need to make the required corrections and then have the property re-inspected. City inspectors will conduct a re-inspection at no-charge. Private inspectors will set their own rates.
  • Extending the Inspection Deadline: You may request more time to complete your inspection. To request more time, call (206) 684-4110.

2. Submit Approved Inspection Documentation
Qualified programs and documentation include:

Qualified Program
Accepted Documentation
Seattle of Office Housing Email from Office of Housing stating that the property has passed inspection
Washington State House Finance Commission (WSHFC) Letter from WSHFC stating that property has passed inspection
King County Housing and Community Development Email from King County stating that the property has passed inspection
Washington State Department of Commerce, Housing Finance Unit Email from Commerce stating that the property has passed inspection
Seattle Housing Authority (SHA), Housing Choice Voucher Copy of Direct Deposit Advice issued by SHA
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 202, Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program Email from HUD attaching inspection report cover letter and "snapshot"
U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 811, Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program Email from HUD attaching inspection report cover letter and "snapshot."

See complete instructions on submitting documentation below.

3. Meet the Inspection Exception: Notify us if your property has an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) occupied by an immediate family member and you live in a unit on the property. The rental unit occupied by your immediate family member is exempt from inspection. Contact us at (206) 684-4110, or email us at RRIO@seattle.gov.

Other Types of RRIO Inspections

There are other types of RRIO inspections that may be done voluntarily, or as a result of a complaint.

Pre-Registration Inspection
You may choose to hire a City inspector or qualified private inspector to complete an inspection prior to registration. A pre-registration inspection can help you feel confident declaring that your property and all your units meet our checklist standards. This inspection is strictly voluntary and all rental housing units on your property must be inspected. You must comply with all the requirements of our required inspection, such as proper notice to tenants. If you complete and pass a pre-registration inspection, the inspector will provide you with a Certificate of Compliance. The RRIO Certificate of Compliance for a pre-registration inspection will satisfy your inspection requirement for at least five years. Instructions for submitting your documents are located below.

Voluntary Inspection
You may choose to have a RRIO inspection conducted after you register at your convenience, rather than wait to be selected for a required inspection. To schedule a voluntary inspection, you must contact us at (206) 684-4110 and request a voluntary inspection letter. The letter will establish the date for your 60-day compliance timeline. It will also randomly select the appropriate number of units on a multi-unit property to be inspected. If you have prior violations you may be required to have all your units inspected, depending upon the date of the violation. You may hire a City inspector or a qualified private inspector to complete the voluntary inspection. If you complete and pass the voluntary inspection, the inspector will provide you with a Certificate of Compliance. You may submit the certificate to us and that will satisfy your inspection requirement for at least five years. Instructions for submitting documentation are located below.

Complaint-Based Inspection
All complaints regarding rental housing will be handled according to the Housing and Building Maintenance Code, enforced by our Code Compliance group. This code has a broader set of standards than RRIO.

If a City Housing and Zoning Inspector completes a site inspection of the property, the inspector will also complete a RRIO Checklist.

  • If the rental unit(s) pass the RRIO Checklist, then the result will be recorded with the property registration record and no additional action will be necessary regarding the complaint.
  • If the rental unit(s) fail the RRIO Checklist and the property is not required to be registered with us, then the property will be managed according to the practices, procedures, and policies of our Code Compliance program.
  • If the rental unit(s) fail the RRIO Checklist and the property is registered with us, then the result will be recorded with the property registration record and us. If the property is randomly selected for inspection in the next year, all units on the property must be inspected.

If the Department Director requires additional RRIO inspections of rental housing units due to a failed RRIO Checklist, the additional inspections must be completed within 60 calendar days.

Submitting Inspection Documents

You will need to submit documents to us that you have met the inspection requirement if:

  • You have a Certificate of Compliance issued by a qualified private inspector
  • You have documentation of a pre-qualified alternate inspection (listed in the table above)

There are four ways to submit proof that you passed your inspection:

  1. Online: Sign in to your online RRIO user account and attach your documents. If you need help, follow these instructions on submitting documentation online.
  2. Email: Scan and attach your documents to an email and send them to RRIO@seattle.gov.
  3. Mail: Mail your documents to:
         City of Seattle - Department of Planning and Development
         RRIO Program
         P.O. Box 34019
         Seattle, WA 98124-4019
  4. In Person: Bring your documents to:
         Seattle Municipal Tower
         700 5th Avenue
         Applicant Service Center - 20th Floor
         Seattle, WA 98124

Violations and Penalties

If you do not follow our requirements, we may issue a violation and penalties, and we may take legal action. Our goal is to work with you to make sure you meet our requirements. If you face RRIO penalties or a violation, call us immediately to resolve the situation before the penalties grow and become a costly lawsuit.

You may get a violation for:

  • Not registering a rental housing property by the due date
  • Not completing a property inspection by the due date
  • Renting a property to tenants that does not meet the minimum standards in the RRIO checklist

Penalties are $150 per day for the first 10 days and $500 per day after that.

Once you receive a Notice of Violation letter, you must comply or contact us immediately if you need an extension or want to appeal. You may request a review of the violation of penalties by following these instructions to file an appeal.

If you do not comply or request a review, we will send the case to the City Attorney’s office to file a lawsuit to compel you to meet the RRIO requirement and pay the penalties. We will notify you when we refer the violation to the City Attorney.

For more information, download our RRIO Violations and Penalties flyer.

Learn More About RRIO

For more information about RRIO, see our About RRIO page.

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