Wanna be a Seattle Rental Inspector?

Seattle Rental Inspector with ClipboardThere should be lots of job openings coming up in 2014. On October 1, 2012 the Seattle City Council voted to approve required registration and inspections for all rental property in the City Seattle, phased in over the next three years. The program is set to begin in 2014, giving the City some time to organize this massive undertaking. About half the people in Seattle are renters, so this is going to be a huge ongoing city program. Lots of details are yet to be worked out, but landlords could face penalties starting at $150 per day for those who refuse to correct problems. The Rental Housing Association is worried that this could grow at many times the rate of inflation and that the City Council will need to monitor it very closely or the costs will get out of hand. It's certain the landlords will need to recoup these expenses through either up-front fees, or increased rental rates, which are already the highest in the region.

When you look at the list, there are some exceptions here.

Registration is required for all rental housing units, from single family houses to large apartments; exceptions include:

  • Short-term vacation rentals
  • Commercial lodging such as hotels, motels and B&Bs
  • Housing units in state licensed facilities like assisted living, adult family homes or veterans homes
  • Hospitals and hospices
  • Emergency or temporary shelters or transitional housing Facilities owned by or managed for Major Institutions
  • Housing units in a religious facility occupied by members of the religious order
  • Housing units, owned by a government entity or housing authority, like Seattle Housing Authority

And there is some language allowing ADU (Accessory Dwelling Units – often affectionately referred to as “mother-in-law” units) that are being rented out. But this is only if they are rented out to an immediate family member of the resident owner. Which is not the case in many if not most ADUs out there. All over the city many people have built ADUs without permits and often not to code. These are often rented out by unsuspecting homeowners for additional income who do not know much about tenant landlord laws or housing code standards. If these get shut down because of this registration and inspection process there will be even more demand and higher prices for in-city urban dwellings.

This will be a very hot topic for a long time to come!

(see Seattle City Council White Paper dated Oct 1, 2012 and Seattle Times Article for more details)