Floating Residences

See also: Shoreline Master Program Code

A brown man with a mustache standing next to a floating residence with a question mark in a thought bubble.Seattle's shoreline regulations limit residential uses on the water. In addition to liveaboards on conventional recreational vessels, the City recognizes four types of floating residences. These are:

  • Floating homes
  • Floating on-water residences (FOWRs)
  • House barges
  • Vessels containing dwelling units (VDUs)

City regulations specify how floating residences can be used and where they can be located. Many of Seattle's floating residences are uniquely constructed, and it may not be clear which of the above categories applies to a particular residence on the water. For questions regarding a specific floating residence or liveaboard craft, please contact SDCI. Have the verification or registration number ready so we can assist you.

As part of the Shoreline Master Program updates in 2015, owners of existing floating residences completed a one-time verification or registration process and were assigned a 3-digit number. Owners must keep their verification records current, which includes updating the City about any changes in ownership or location. Liveaboards on conventional recreational vessels (CRVs) as defined in the Shoreline Master Program are exempt from these requirements. 

Director's Rule for Verification of Floating On-Water Residences

We published Director's Rule (DR) 9-2020, Verification of Floating On-Water Residences, on July 30, 2020. The rule established an end date of September 30, 2020 for verification of any floating on-water residences.

If you have questions regarding the verification of floating on-water residences please call us at (206) 615-0808. If you have questions about permitting for a floating on-water residence, submit them using one of the options on our Send us a Question page.

Rules to Follow

In order to comply with the code, owners of floating homes, house barges, floating on-water residences, and vessels containing a dwelling unit must: 

  • Display a City-assigned, unique identification number
  • Obtain SDCI authorization before starting any exterior repair, remodel, expansion, or rebuilding
  • Follow City of Seattle best management practices to minimize impacts on the aquatic environment (see Tip 250)
  • Notify the City of Seattle within 60 days when you move your residence to a new tax parcel, new marina, or new slip within the same marina
  • Notify the City of any change in ownership or contact information of the owner 

Read the Code