Rental Housing Inspections Begin in Seattle This Spring

Purpose is to help ensure all housing meets basic safety standards

A selection of rental housing properties will receive safety inspections starting this month. These inspections are taking place under the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO), which was established by the Seattle City Council to help ensure that rental housing properties in Seattle are safe and meet basic housing requirements and safety standards.

“Over half of Seattle’s population lives in rental housing, yet an estimated 10 percent of rental homes have moderate to severe problems,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “No one in Seattle should be forced to live with a roof that leaks, a toilet that doesn’t flush, or an unreliable heating system. By registering rental properties and conducting random inspections, we can help ensure that these properties meet the basic standards that any of us would expect.”

Historically, Seattle relied on renters calling the City about rental problems when they were not fixed by the property owner. But not all renters knew they could call, or felt comfortable complaining about issues with their landlord.

“This is a big step towards addressing the housing problems that we encounter in the course of our work,” says Kira Zylstra of Solid Ground, an anti-poverty and social service organization in Seattle. “We applaud the City for taking a proactive approach to renters’ rights. This program protects tenants by shifting the responsibility away from the tenant when there are safety concerns that have not been addressed.”

Inspectors will look for the basic safety and maintenance issues described on the RRIO Checklist, a set of plain-language requirements developed in consultation with rental property owners, renters, and other community members.

For instance, all families in Seattle rental homes should have functioning smoke detectors, emergency exits, hot and cold running water, and working heat.

“These inspections are in the best interests of tenants—they make sure everyone has safe quality housing. They are not designed to look at personal items, furniture, or how a renter lives,” said Paul Mar of the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority.

The City is committed to working with property owners and managers to make this a fair and balanced process. When an inspection is required, property owners will have 60 days’ notice from the City, and their choice of using a City inspector or a qualified private inspector. In addition, if a property cannot meet the RRIO standards by the inspection due date, the property owner or manager can request an extension.

“We felt that the City and DPD were very inclusive of rental housing owners and managers throughout the establishment of RRIO. We appreciated having a seat at the table,” says Sean Martin, of the Rental Housing Association, an organization made up of property owners, property managers and businesses that provide services to the rental housing industry.

RRIO has registered over 90,000 rental units so far, or about half the units in Seattle. Of the properties due to register by the first due date, over 99 percent have completed the registration.

All properties with 10+ units should have registered by September 30, 2014. All properties with 5-9 units should have registered by March 31, 2015. Properties with fewer than 5 units will be registered throughout 2015-2016 based on a schedule set by zip code. Rental properties will not be selected for inspection until they have been registered.


About RRIO

 The Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance was established by the Seattle City Council after an extensive public involvement process to help ensure that all rental housing in Seattle is safe and meets basic maintenance requirements. The program educates property owners, managers, and renters about their rights and responsibilities, and through a comprehensive registration and inspection process, helps make sure that rental properties meet City housing codes.


Visit the RRIO website for more information.

RRIO Program Update

Seattle’s Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO) program is now open for business! You can now register a rental property, find registration due dates, see the RRIO checklist, and get your questions answered by phone or email. Check out the RRIO website at for complete information about the program.

RRIO helps ensure that all rental housing in Seattle is safe and meets basic housing maintenance requirements. Starting in 2014, rental property owners in Seattle must register their properties with the City. Inspectors will make sure all registered properties meet the requirements of the RRIO Checklist at least once every 10 years.

Online Rental Property Registration
The online RRIO Registration System is available through our website. You can find general information about registration, instruction on how to set up a user account and use the registration system, a link to the online registration system, and other options for registering on the Owners and Managers tab.

Registration Due Dates
Registration due dates start in September and go as follows:

  • All properties with 10 or more units must be registered by September 30, 2014.
  • All properties with 5 – 9 units must be registered by March 31, 2015.
  • During 2015 and 2016, single-family, duplex, triplex, and fourplex properties with rental units will be registered. The specific deadlines for these properties are based on the ZIP code where the property is located.

Download the complete schedule to see registration due dates.

Some government-owned, government-operated, institutional, and other types of rental housing may not need to be registered. See the registration exceptions.

RRIO Checklist
The RRIO Checklist is available on our website and is a key part of both registration and inspection. The Checklist outlines the minimum housing standards that a rental unit must meet in order to pass a RRIO inspection. Each property owner/manager will have to declare that their rental units meet these standards when they register with RRIO. Inspection of rental units will begin in 2015.

RRIO Questions
The RRIO phone line is available to answer questions at (206) 684-4110. You can also submit a question about RRIO via our website. Check out the RRIO FAQs for answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Online Private Inspector Registration
Rental property owners will have the option of using a city inspector or private inspector to meet the periodic inspection requirement. Interested private inspectors can check the Inspectors tab on our website. There you can find out more about the requirements to become a private inspector, register as an inspector, and sign up for required City training. The first training class is scheduled for May 27, 2014.