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City of Seattle Legislative Information Service

Information retrieved on January 21, 2017 0:28 AM


Council Bill Number: 116857
Ordinance Number: 123311


AN ORDINANCE relating to residential rental property registration and inspections, adding a new Chapter 6.440 to the Seattle Municipal Code and providing for an effective date of October 1, 2011.

Status: Passed
Date passed by Full Council: June 1, 2010
Vote: 7-0 (Disqualified: O’Brien, Rasmussen)
Date filed with the City Clerk: June 9, 2010
Date of Mayor's signature: June 7, 2010
(about the signature date)


Date introduced/referred to committee: May 3, 2010
Committee: Built Environment
Sponsor: CLARK
Committee Recommendation:
Date of Committee Recommendation:
Committee Vote:

Index Terms: BUILDING-CODES, HOUSING, RENTAL-HOUSING, LANDLORDS, TENANTS, APARTMENT-BUILDINGS, PUBLIC-REGULATIONS, LICENSES, BUILDING-INSPECTION,

Fiscal Note: Fiscal Note to Council Bill No. 116857

Electronic Copy: PDF scan of Ordinance No. 123311



Text

AN ORDINANCE relating to residential rental property registration and inspections, adding a new Chapter 6.440 to the Seattle Municipal Code and providing for an effective date of October 1, 2011.

WHEREAS, the City Council has determined substandard and unsanitary residential buildings and dwelling units exist within the City of Seattle; and

WHEREAS, improving residential housing and providing for neighborhood stability throughout the City through improved housing conditions requires periodic inspection of residential rental housing units in the City to determine if such premises fail to comply with certain requirements of the City’s Housing Code or endanger or impair the health or safety of a tenant; and

WHEREAS, in order to provide for such periodic inspection of residential rental housing units, a Residential Rental Business License and Inspection Program must be established; and

WHEREAS, the fees that will be imposed by separate ordinance are to recover the cost of the Residential Rental Business License and Inspection Program, are not intended to raise revenues for other purposes, and are not imposed on property ownership but on the carrying out of the business of renting residential property subject to these regulations; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY OF SEATTLE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Effective October 1, 2011, a new Chapter 6.440, the Residential Rental Business License and Inspection Program, is added to the Seattle Municipal Code as follows:

6.440.010 Declaration of Purpose

The City Council finds that the establishment of a Residential Rental Business License and Inspection Program is necessary to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of tenants by encouraging the proper maintenance of rental housing, by identifying and requiring correction of substandard housing conditions, and by preventing conditions of deterioration and blight that could adversely impact the quality of life in the City of Seattle.

6.440.020 Definitions

For purposes of this chapter, the following words or phrases have the meaning prescribed below:

1. "Accessory dwelling unit" or "ADU" means an "Accessory dwelling unit" or a "Detached accessory dwelling unit" as defined under "Residential Use" in Section 23.84A.032.

2. "Certificate of Compliance" means the document signed and dated by a Qualified Rental Housing Inspector and submitted to the City as the result of an inspection conducted by a Qualified Rental Housing Inspector that certifies that the residential housing units that were inspected comply with the requirements of the City’s Housing Code listed in Section 6.440.050.A and are not in a condition that endangers or impairs or could endanger or impair the health and safety of a tenant.

3. "Housing Code" means the Housing and Building Maintenance Code in SMC chapters 22.200-22.208.

4. "Mobile Home" means a "Mobile Home" or a "Manufactured Home" as defined in RCW chapter 59.20.

5. "Owner" has the meaning given in Section 22.204.160.

6. "Qualified Rental Housing Inspector" means:

a. A City Housing and Zoning Inspector; or

b. A private inspector who is registered with the City as a qualified rental housing inspector pursuant to Section 6.440.050 and who possesses at least one of the following credentials:

1) A.A.C.E. Property Maintenance and Housing Inspector certification,

2) I.C.C. Property Maintenance and Housing Inspector certification,

3) I.C.C. Residential Building Code Inspector,

4) Washington State licensed home inspector; or

5) Other acceptable credential the Director of the Department of Planning and Development establishes by rule.

7. "Rental unit" means a residential housing unit occupied or rented by a tenant or available for rent by a tenant.

8. "Residential Housing Unit" means any structure or part of a structure in the City of Seattle that is used or may be used as a home, residence or sleeping place by one or more persons, including but not limited to, single-family residences, duplexes, tri-plexes, four-plexes, multi-family dwellings, apartment buildings, condominiums, and similar living accommodations.

9. "Residential Rental Business License" means a license issued under this chapter.

10. "Shelter" means a facility with overnight sleeping accommodations, owned, operated, or managed by a nonprofit agency or governmental entity, the primary purpose of which is to provide temporary shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations of the homeless.

11. "Tenant" has the meaning given in Section 22.204.210.A.

12. "Transitional Housing" means residential housing units owned, operated, or managed by a nonprofit agency or governmental entity in which supportive services are provided to individuals or families that were formerly homeless, with the intent to stabilize them and move them to permanent housing within a period of not more than 24 months.

13. "Unit unavailable for rent" means a residential housing unit that is not offered or available for rent as a rental unit, and that prior to offering or making the unit available as a rental unit, the owner is required to obtain a residential rental business license for the building in which the unit is located and comply with applicable administrative regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter.

6.440.030 Scope

The provisions of this chapter apply to all residential housing units, with the exception of:

A. Owner-occupied rental units;

B. Units unavailable for rent;

C. Housing accommodations in hotels, motels, inns or similar accommodations for transient guests;

D. Housing accommodations in retirement or nursing homes;

E. Housing accommodations in any hospital, State-licensed community care facility, convent, monastery or other facility occupied exclusively by members of a religious order or an extended medical care facility;

F. Rental units that a government unit, agency or authority owns, operates or manages, or that are specifically exempted from municipal regulation by State or federal law or administrative regulation. This exception does not apply once the governmental ownership, operation or management is discontinued.

G. Rental units:

1. That receive funding or subsidies from the federal, state or a local government.

2. That are inspected at least every three years as a requirement of the funding or subsidy,

3. That provide a copy of the inspection to the Department of Planning and Development, and

4. For which the Director of the Department of Planning and Development determines that the inspection is substantially equivalent to the inspection required by this chapter.

H. Mobile homes or Manufactured Homes, both as defined in RCW chapter 59.20.

I. Accessory Dwelling Units.

J. Shelters and transitional housing.

6.440.040 Residential Rental Housing Business License Required

A. Beginning April 1, 2012, no person shall make available for rent, or rent, lease, or let, to the public any residential housing unit without obtaining and holding a current residential rental business license for the building in which the residential unit is located.

B. The fee for a residential rental business license shall be set by Council by ordinance in an amount sufficient only to recover the cost of carrying out the provisions of this chapter. The fees collected shall be allocated only to that purpose.

C. A residential rental business license expires on March 31 of each year.

D. The residential rental business license is personal and nontransferable except as provided in Section 6.202.120.

E. Application. Application for a residential rental business license shall be made to the Director of the Department of Executive Administration on forms provided by the Director of the Department of Executive Administration. The application shall list and identify by address the building and each of the residential housing units that the applicant intends to make available for rent, or rent, lease, or let, to the public prior to the expiration of the applicant’s residential rental business license and shall include the fee due for the license.

F. Renewal. A residential rental business license may be renewed by paying the license fee for the ensuing year on or before the date of the expiration of the current license, submitting a renewal application updating the information contained in the original application, and submitting a certificate of compliance dated within three years and 90 days of the date of the application for renewal, unless the Department of Planning and Development has required a more recent certificate of compliance pursuant to Section 6.440.050.G, in which case the more recent certificate of compliance shall be submitted. Any licensee who fails to pay the renewal license fee on or prior to the expiration date of the business license shall be subject to penalties in the following amounts:

1. $100 if not received on or before the last day of the month following the expiration date.

2. $200 if not received on or before the last day of the second month following the expiration date.

G. Display of business license and certificate of compliance. Within 30 calendar days after issuance or renewal of a residential business license, a copy of the current residential rental business license and the most recent certificate of compliance shall be posted and remain posted in a common area in the building that is readily visible to all tenants.

6.440.050 Inspection and Certificate of Compliance Required

A. As a condition to the issuance or renewal of a residential rental business license, an applicant shall provide a valid certificate of compliance stating that the applicant’s residential housing units that were inspected comply with the requirements of the Housing Code listed in this Section 6.440.050.A, and that there are no conditions in those units that endanger or impair or could endanger or impair the health or safety of a tenant. A qualified rental housing inspector inspecting a rental unit for a certificate of compliance under this chapter shall inspect for and certify compliance with the following requirements of the Housing Code:

1. The minimum floor area standards for a habitable room contained in Section 22.206.020.A;

2. The minimum sanitation standards contained in Sections 22.206.050.A, 22.206.050.D, 22.206.050.E, 22.206.050.F and 22.206.050.G;

3. The minimum structural standards contained in Section 22.206.060

4. The minimum sheltering standards contained in Section 22.206.070;

5. The minimum maintenance standards contained in Section 22.206.080.A;

6. The minimum heating standards contained in Section 22.206.090;

7. The minimum ventilation standards contained in Section 22.206.100;

8. The minimum electrical standards contained in Section 22.206.110.A;

9. The minimum standards for Emergency Escape Window and Doors contained in Section 22.206.130.J;

10. The requirements for garbage, rubbish, and debris removal contained in Section 22.206.160.A.1;

11. The requirements for extermination contained in Section 22.206.160.A.3;

12. The requirement to provide keys and locks contained in Section 22.206.160.A.11;

13. The requirement to provide garbage cans contained in Section 22.206.160.B.2; and

14. The requirement to provide and test smoke detectors contained in Section 22.206.160.B.4.

B. A certificate of compliance shall be issued by a qualified rental housing inspector and be based upon the physical inspection by the qualified rental housing inspector of the residential housing units conducted not more than 90 days prior to the date of the certificate of compliance.

C. The certificate of compliance shall:

1. List and show compliance with the standards contained in Section 6.44.050.A for each residential housing unit that was inspected;

2. State the date of the inspection and the name and address of the qualified rental housing inspector who performed the inspection; and

3. State the name, address and phone number of the building’s owner/licensee or the agent designated by the owner/licensee.

D. Inspection of units for certificate of compliance.

1. In buildings that contain more than one rental unit, an applicant may choose to have all of the rental units inspected or, if the building has not had conditions reported to the Department of Planning and Development that endanger or impair the health or safety of a tenant since the last inspection required by this chapter, the applicant may choose to have only a sample of the rental units inspected. If the applicant chooses to have only a sample of the rental units inspected:

a. If the building contains 20 or fewer rental units, no more than four rental units are required to be inspected; or

b. If the building contains more than 20 rental units, no more than 20 percent of the rental units are required to be inspected, up to a maximum of 50 rental units in each building.

c. The Department of Planning and Development will randomly select the units to be inspected.

2. If an applicant chooses sampling, the applicant shall provide the Department of Planning and Development with copies of all the inspections performed on the sampled units in order to obtain a certificate of compliance.

3. If an applicant chooses sampling and a rental unit randomly selected by the Department of Planning and Development fails the inspection, the Department of Planning and Development may require that 100 percent of the rental units be inspected.

E. Notice to Tenants.

1. Before the Department of Planning and Development selects the rental units to be inspected, or, if all of the units are to be inspected, before the inspection, the landlord shall provide at least two days’ advance written notice to all rental units in the building advising tenants:

a) that some or all of the rental units will be inspected;

b) that an inspector intends to enter the rental unit for purposes of performing the inspection;

c) of the date and approximate time of the proposed inspection and the name of the company or person performing the inspection;

d) that the tenant has the right to see the inspector’s identification before the inspector enters the rental unit;

e) that a tenant whose rental unit need repairs or maintenance should send a written notice to the landlord or the person who collects the rent specifying the address of the rental unit, the name of the owner, if known, and the defective condition, repair or maintenance that is needed;

f) that if the landlord fails to adequately respond to the request for repairs or maintenance, the tenant may contact the Department of Planning and Development about the conditions without reprisal; and

g) the address at which the tenant may contact the Department of Planning and Development.

2. Upon request the landlord shall provide a copy of the notice to the inspector on the day of the inspection.

F. A certificate of compliance is valid and may be used for license applications and renewals under this chapter for a period of three years and 90 days from the date it is issued, unless the Department of Planning and Development determines that violations of the Housing Code exist for any units listed in the certificate of compliance. If the Department of Planning and Development determines that violations of the Housing Code exist in any of the units listed in a certificate of compliance, the applicant may be required to obtain an inspection and submit a new certificate of compliance with the annual application for license renewal for the subsequent two years for those units for which violations were found.

G. Other inspections. Nothing in this section precludes additional inspections conducted at the request or consent of a tenant, pursuant to a warrant, or pursuant to the tenant remedy provided by RCW 59.18.115 of the Residential Landlord-Tenant Act.

6.440.060 Qualified Rental Housing Inspector registration

A. To register as a qualified rental housing inspector (RHI), each applicant shall:

1. Pay to the Director of the Department of Planning and Development the annual registration fee set in the annual Department of Planning and Development fee ordinance;

2. Successfully complete an RHI examination administered or approved by the Director of the Department of Planning and Development. Each applicant for the exam shall pay to the Director of the Department of Planning and Development an examination fee to be set by the Director of the Department of Planning and Development at an amount that will fund the cost of administering and grading the examination.

3. Provide evidence to the Department of Planning and Development that the applicant possesses a current City business license issued pursuant to Section 5.55.030 and that the applicant has successfully completed the RHI examination within the last two years.

B. Expiration of Registration. All RHI registrations automatically expire on January 31 of each year and must be renewed pursuant to the provisions of subsection 6.440.060.C.

C. Renewal of Registration. In order to renew a registration, the RHI shall:

1. Pay the renewal fee set in the annual Department of Planning and Development fee ordinance.

2. Provide proof of compliance with the requirements of subsections 6.440.060.A.2-6.440.060A.3.

D. Failure to Renew. An RHI who fails to renew its registration is prohibited from inspecting and certifying rental housing pursuant to Chapter 6.440 until the RHI registers or renews pursuant to subsection 6.440.060.

6.440.070 Directors to Make Rules

The Director of the Department of Executive Administration and the Director of the Department of Planning and Development are authorized to adopt, publish and enforce rules and regulations consistent with this chapter for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this chapter.

6.440.080 License Denial, Suspension, or Revocation

A. A residential rental housing business license may be suspended, denied, or revoked pursuant to chapter 6.202.

B. If an application for a residential rental housing business license is denied, or a residential rental housing license is suspended or revoked, no reapplication for that license will be considered by the Director until correction of any and all deficiencies on which the denial, suspension, or revocation was based.

C. If an application for a license renewal is denied, no application for a license or a license renewal will be considered by the Director until any and all deficiencies on which the refusal to renew was based have been corrected.

6.440.090 Penalties

A. Any person violating any of the provisions or failing to comply with any of the requirements of this chapter or any rules or regulations adopted by the Director of Executive Administration or the Director of Planning and Development pursuant to this chapter, may be punished by a penalty of $150 per day for the first ten days that the violation or failure to comply exists and $500 per day for each day thereafter. Each person is guilty of a separate violation for each and every day during any portion of which any violation of any provision of this chapter is committed, continued, or permitted by such person.

B. Any person who knowingly submits or assists in the submission of a falsified certificate of inspection, or knowingly submits falsified information upon which a certificate of compliance is issued, in addition to the penalties provided in subsection 6.44.060.A above, shall be subject to a penalty of $1000.

C. For any rental unit that fails the inspection for the certificate of compliance under this chapter, the Department of Planning and Development may issue a notice of violation under the Housing Code and subject the violator to the penalties imposed or remedies available under the provisions of the Housing Code.

Section 2. Severability. If any part, provision or section of this ordinance is held to be void or unconstitutional, all other parts, provisions, and sections of this ordinance not expressly so held to be void or unconstitutional shall continue in full force and effect.

Section 3. This ordinance shall take effect and be in force 30 days from and after its approval by the Mayor, but if not approved and returned by the Mayor within ten days after presentation, it shall take effect as provided by Municipal Code Section 1.04.020.

Passed by the City Council the ____ day of ________________________, 2010, and signed by me in open session in authentication of its passage this _____ day of ___________________, 2010.

_________________________________

President __________of the City Council

Approved by me this ____ day of _____________________, 2010.

_________________________________

Michael McGinn, Mayor

Filed by me this ____ day of __________________________, 2010.

____________________________________

City Clerk

(Seal)

Karen White/kw/Michael Jenkins

DPD Rental Property Inspection and Licensing ORD

May 27, 2010

Version #14 clean

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