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Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance

SEATTLE – After a hard fought battle in 2012, the Seattle City Council passed the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO). The ordinance’s intent is to assure that every rental unit in the city of Seattle is regularly inspected for basic health and safety. Passage of the ordinance created a mechanism by which retaliation against tenants for reporting a landlord to the Department of Construction and Inspections would be reduced or eliminated. This does not eliminate the original complaint based system; rather, this adds a layer of protection to tenants who are afraid to report repair issues due to possible retaliation by their landlord or property manager.

Visit the SDCI website for more information or read the code here.

RRIO requires inspections of individual units and buildings city-wide to ensure basic safety maintenance requirements are met. All property owners began the process of registering each of their buildings with the City of Seattle in 2014. Inspectors will ensure each unit meets basic safety and maintenance standards at least once every 10 years.

How it works:

There are three categories of housing for registration phase-in, and each building category has a different registration due date:

  • 10+ units (around 2,500 buildings) – deadline for registration passed September 30th, 2014
  • 5-9 units (around 2,000 buildings) – deadline for registration passed March 31st, 2015
  • 1-4 units (around 40,000 buildings) – deadline for registration phased in on varying dates based on zip code groups (click here for dates)

Inspections will begin in 2015, where the City of Seattle’s Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) will randomly select at least 10% of properties for inspection. Click here to view the RRIO Checklist on the DPD website.

Inspections will cover:

Exterior structure:

  • Roof
  • Chimney
  • Foundation
  • Exterior stairs & deck, handrails
  • Platforms
  • Doors & windows
  • Exterior walls


  • Ventilation
  • Walls, floors, ceilings
  • Stairs, landings, handrails, platforms
  • Room size , floor condition

Emergency Exits:

  • Windows
  • Doors

Heating Systems:

  • Heat source
  • Temperature
  • Fuel burning appliances
  • Plumbing & Hot Water

Sanitation Standards:

  • Bathroom appliances
  • Kitchen appliances

Owner’s obligations:

  • Garbage
  • Rodents & insects
  • Doors, locks, frames
  • Smoke detectors

All inspectors will be either city trained and certified private inspectors or city inspectors. All inspectors will undergo cultural competency training prior to entering homes for inspection.

Tenants Union Tenant Counselors are not attorneys, and this information should not be considered legal advice. Please read our full Tenant Union Disclaimer.