Many cities have code enforcement offices that will send inspectors to take a look at any rental housing code violations. Availability and responsiveness vary from city to city and not all municipalities do inspections. Some inspectors will follow up directly with a landlord to ensure that housing codes are being met and permits up-to-date. Typically Code Enforcement will want you to first go through the initial repair process of notifying the landlord in writing of the need for a repair and to wait the appropriate timeframe.
Be aware that if your unit lacks water or electricity, it could be condemned by the city. Call Code Enforcement to describe your situation and ask them what actions they are likely to take so that you can balance the decision to file a complaint.
Some municipalities will be able to impose fines on the landlord, or otherwise penalize code violations. If the city provides inspections be sure to ask for a copy of their report as this documentation can be very helpful.
The Seattle Department of Construction and Inspection (DPD) can be reached at 206-684-5700. Search for your city code enforcement office online or call City Hall and ask for the office that enforces building codes. They are otherwise known as the Planning, Community Development, or Building Code Enforcement departments.
Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.