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. As part of the Shoreline Master Program updates in 2015, owners completed a one-time process to document a floating home, house barge, floating on-water residence, or other vessel containing a dwelling unit. These included:

  • Vessels containing dwelling units that were moored in the City of Seattle before June 15, 2015
  • Floating on-water residences that were moored in the City of Seattle before July 1, 2014
  • Floating homes that were moored in the City of Seattle before January 1, 2011
  • House barges that were moored in the City of Seattle before July 1, 1990

For questions regarding a specific floating residence or liveaboard craft, please contact SDCI. Many of Seattle’s floating residences are uniquely constructed, and it may not be clear which of the above categories applies in all cases. 

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 a new 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,visit the Ask Us a Land Use 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: 

  • Obtain and 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
  • 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