The City of Seattle recently approved a Rental Inspection Program. Seattle has one of the most stringent programs for landlords in the nation. People from other parts of the country or even other Washington State counties might be caught by surprise at some of Seattle’s regulations for landlords. Many of these rules even apply for leasing an ADU or DADU within the City of Seattle’s borders. The City implemented a random inspection program that is required for all rental units. It’s estimated 10% of the housing units in the city are substandard and don’t comply with Seattle code, so with the escalating rents, Seattle is attempting to clean up the housing stock. Learn more general information about the program here. The City notifies landlords when and which units must be inspected. The property owner chooses a Seattle approved inspector to carry out the inspection. There are fees charged by the city and by the inspector.

Seattle's Landlord Tenant Laws

Click on the above image for the full document.

This post is a follow-up to the last blog post, as renting out part of your home is great for helping out with the mortgage, gaining equity and other benefits along the way. A new landlord should have their eyes wide open to some of the challenges of renting in Seattle and make sure they are willing to take on the challenge. It can be an experience you never forget it’s up to you to make it a positive one!

Here are a few suggestions to help keep a new lessor out of trouble:

  • Join the RHA. Seattle’s Rental Housing Association is a great place to access rental forms, take classes, run credit checks of prospective tenants, and receive advice for the sometimes hard and frustrating business of being someone’s landlord. Join for a minimum of a year and take full advantage of all they offer. New landlords are often shocked by the professional tenants (and there are a few that know the system and use it to their unscrupulous advantage). Alternatively, hire out the headaches to a professional property management company. Of course, this option comes with a price, and is well worth it for some.
  • Establish criteria for tenants and stick to it. Whether it be qualifying a tenant or move-in or move-out procedures.
  • Always check references and credit. No credit can be a problem but do your due diligence on your tenants, just like when you purchased your property. A lease deposit is a pitance compared to the damage a tenant can actually cause while in possession of your rental.
  • Imagine living in the rental space yourself, what would you like to see in the space? Can you improve the experience for your tenant? A few improvements might make the difference between short and long term tenants.
  • Perform periodic inspections to maintain the rental is a proactive manner and make repairs as needed. On the other hand, give your tenants privacy too. It’s not just your property, it’s their home. Be sure to give legal notice and carefully follow the law in regard to proper ways to deliver a notice.

Being a Seattle landlord isn’t just about passive income, it’s also providing a home for someone. When balanced properly it’s a great win/win proposition. Two reasonable parties with mutual respect and responsibility can make it an enjoyable and beneficial experience for both sides of the contract.

For more information regarding my personal experiences with Seattle’s Rental Inspections feel free to contact

Kim Mulligan, Seattle Realtor

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.