Wednesday, June 2, 2010

UPDATE! Seattle City Council Approves Rental Licensing and Inspections

In a 7-0 vote, the Seattle City Council (with two members abstaining) approved a law to license and inspect rental properties. You can read about the Council's actions by clicking here for the Seattle Times article on the subject. As with Prosser, WA, Seattle sought to approve a statute prior to the 10 June 2010 effective date of a Washington State law on rental licensing. Seattle, Pasco and Prosser will now be grandfathered and will not be subject to the limits of the legislation passed in Olympia in March. Unless Bellingham takes action to pass a rental licensing and inspection code prior to 10 June, it will fall under the restrictions of Bill 6459 - An Act Relating to the Inspection of Rental Properties.


Anonymous said...

There are unintended consequences when a city institutes a mandatory inspection program. The majority of rental property owners are responsible owners who care about their tenants well being.

It is a minority that are providing substandard housing. Civil search warrant authority will allow the City the access they need to illegal boarding rooms. A mandatory inspection program will not. Law breakers are not going to become a law abiding citizen just because mandatory inspections law. They won't register for the program so the only people that will be subject to inspections are those landlords providing quality housing.

Zonemaven said...

Dear Anonymous,

Even responsible owners do not know everything about the condition of their properties, Consider this. The city of Pasco found that 15% of the units inspected under their program had serious life/safety issues. 10% had mold problems. A full 85% had problems of varying degrees. The city of Gresham, OR performed over 1600 inspections in 2009 and issued, as a result, over 4,000 citations. Lexington, KY performed inspections of units near the University of Kentucky and found that 50% had life/safety issues. Why do you believe that the condition of rental housing here in Bellingham does not mirror that which is found in cities that have the statistics to show that time and time again the condition of rentals in our cities is problematic?

The administrative search warrants established by recent Washington State law does not cover entry for charges of illegal rooming houses.

As for registering for the program, that should not be left up to the landlords to do voluntarily although most would do so if penalties are imposed for not doing so. The city also can scrub the property records for residences for which the owner has a separate mailing address, a good sign that the unit is non owner-occupied.