The Department of Construction and Inspection, or SDCI, has Code Enforcement inspectors that will come out to ensure that residential units are in compliance with local building codes. 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 (see Repairs for details). The city may be able to impose fines on the landlord, or otherwise penalize the landlord for code violations. Be sure to ask for a copy of their report as this documentation can be very helpful.
Be aware that if your unit completely lacks water or electricity that it could be condemned by the city. You may be eligible for emergency rental assistance if your unit is condemned. Call SDCI Code Enforcement at 206-684-5700 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.
A Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance will soon be enforced in Seattle as well. The City of Seattle passed an ordinance requiring registration for all landlords renting properties within the city limits. The ordinance will not go into effect until 2014. All rental units in Seattle must meet basic health and safety standards, as established by the Housing and Building Maintenance Code. More details on the program will be made available as the program begins.
Read the TU’s answers to common questions about the new healthy homes inspection program.
Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.