Tips for Renters and Landlords

The Property Owner and Tenant Assistance unit at SDCI works to empower renters and landlords and help them to understand their rights and obligations under Seattle City law. If necessary, we take enforcement action to make sure they follow the law.

Top Tips for Renters

  • Pay your rent: Renters should not withhold rent in order to get their landlords to do something, such as making repairs. Withholding rent that can make a renter vulnerable to eviction and makes it harder to protect their rights.
  • Communicate with your landlord in writing: It can be hard to prove verbal conversations, so whenever possible, communicate in writing. If something has been discussed verbally you can always confirm that conversation in writing. Additionally, state law requires repair requests to be in writing.
  • Read and understand your lease: It is important that you read your lease before you sign it! Landlords can only enforce terms in the lease, and terms can only be changed by mutual agreement or, in a month-to-month tenancy, with 30 days’ notice.

Top Tips for Landlords

  • Learn the law: As a landlord it is your responsibility to understand and follow the law. There is a lot of good information on our website  or you could join a professional organization.
  • Make repairs promptly: When you are responsive to repair needs you will ensure a better relationship with your renter and you will prevent more damage from occurring. It is also the law! Repairs must be done between 24 hours and ten days from when they are requested, depending on the issue.
  • Communicate with your renter in writing: It is a best practice to put all requests and communications with renters in writing. This will prevent confusion about what is required for all parties. For instance, generally landlords must give 48 hours’ written notice before entering a tenant’s rental unit.

You can reach the Property Owner and Tenant Assistance unit by calling (206) 615-0808.

Online Over-the-Counter Applications are Now Required

SDCI now requires online applications for all over-the-counter (OTC) applications. OTC applications are Single-Family/Duplex Furnace, Refrigeration, and Over-the-Counter Electrical permits. We issue your permits in 1 – 2 business days after you submit a complete application.

When we launched our new permitting system, all applications were supposed to be submitted online. Due to technical and process difficulties with the Seattle Services Portal and our new system, we continued to accept paper applications for applicants having difficulty applying online. We have resolved the system major problems and the Seattle Services Portal is now working. As we face an extremely high work load, we can no longer continue enter OTC applications manually. The application process is much more efficient when submitted through the customer-facing portal.

If you need assistance applying online, you can come into the Applicant Services Center. We have computers in the lobby that you can use to start your application.

If you need assistance using the portal, please visit the Help Center. You can find articles with step-by-step instructions for the most common customer tasks.

If you have questions about OTC applications, please email

Reminder: List Your Community Organization on DON’s Community Connector

Do you work with or lead a community organization? Add your group to the Department of Neighborhoods’ (DON’s) Community Connector to promote your organization and reach new people in your community.


DON recently launched the Community Connector, their new online portal where you can easily learn about and connect with community-based groups throughout the City. Whether you have a specific interest or just want to connect with your neighborhood, you can easily find an organization that fits your needs. Read our article about Community Connector for more information.

The Community Connector is part of the new Community Resource Hub. Learn more about the Community Resource Hub.

List Your Organization

If you would like to have your group listed in the Community Connector, follow these steps:

  1. Follow this link to the Community Connector portal.
  2. Search to make sure your group is not already in the Community Connector by entering a keyword or group name in the search box.
  3. Click on the blue “Add Your Group” button.
  4. Input your organization’s information into the simple online form. This information includes group name, meeting location, mission, social media links, etc.
  5. Submit the form by clicking the blue Submit button at the bottom of the page. The information you submit will be reviewed by DON staff for content and relevance. If something needs to be updated before your group is added to the database, DON will contact you with questions.


Spread the word to other community-based groups that you think may benefit from being listed on the Community Connector.

New Director’s Rule on Fee Implementation

SDCI has published DR 18-2018 to explain the City’s responsibility for collecting Washington State Building Code Council (SBCC) fees for issued building permits.  DR 18-2018 also streamlines and replaces DR 3-2013.  Several rules in the older director’s rule have since been updated and folded into our published Fee Subtitle and so further clarification by Director’s Rule is no longer needed.  For example, the entire section on Land Use fees in DR 3-2013 is no longer required given updates and clarifications in our Fee Subtitle that have occurred since the director’s rule was published in 2013.

June Publication Updates




Director’s Rules