Buildings Unfit for Human Habitation

See also: Vacant Building StandardsVacant Building Code Updates

What Is It?

Our Buildings Unfit for Human Habitation ordinance regulates whether a building has deteriorated so much that it is unfit for a person to live in it. We consider a building to be unfit for human habitation when it has deteriorated to the point that it threatens public safety. We hold a hearing to determine whether a building is unfit, and we can order its repair or demolition. We can order an unfit building to be demolished in cases of a documented extreme hazard or if the repair cost would be more than 50 percent of the cost to replace it. In other cases, we will issue an order to repair the unfit building.

What It Isn't

This ordinance does not cover vacant buildings that do not meet “unfit” standards. See the Vacant Building Standards page for more information.

Read the Code

Read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) section for building and construction codes relating to buildings unfit for human habitation or other use, SMC 22.208.

Recent Changes

We recently updated the standards for declaring a building unfit for human habitation along with standards for vacant building maintenance. The changes were effective on October 9, 2017. The unfit building standards now allow us to consider additional factors to determine whether the building is unfit and should be demolished. Those additional factors include evidence that the building has been broken into two or more times in the past year and notice from the police or fire department that the building presents a danger to the general public or to City staff that might have to enter the building.