In 2014, the city of Seattle enacted the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance, known industry-wide as RRIO. The purpose of the ordinance is to ensure that all rental housing in Seattle is safe and meets basic housing maintenance requirements. Proponents of this ordinance say it is safe for tenants and will discourage slumlords. Those against the measure say it’s unnecessary legislation that adds costs to housing and is a clever money-grabbing disguise for the city. Whatever your position is, we are stuck with it. So if you’re a landlord, you need to know how to navigate this ordinance. As providers of property management in Seattle, we have some guidelines that can help you with this.
Identifying the Properties Affected by RRIO
The ordinance applies only to the city of Seattle. If your property is located outside of city limits, you do not have to worry about this law. It does include all rental properties in Seattle. That means the obvious multi-family properties and also condominiums and single family houses that are rented out.
Deadlines and Timelines of RRIO
It is up to individual landlords to register their property. As your Seattle property management company, we can do it on your behalf. It’s important to understand that the responsibility ultimately falls on you. Right now, all properties should be registered except for a few single family homes in certain zip codes. By the end of 2016, all properties must be registered. If you fail to register or you’re late, there will be fees and penalties. If you’re trying to evict a tenant and you haven’t registered your property, the city will freeze the eviction until you can prove it’s been registered.
RRIO Fees and Inspections
The fees for registration are $175 for a single unit, and $2 for each additional unit. So, a four-plex would cost $175 plus $6, or $181. The registration is good for five years. Once you register, you need to wait for notification from the city that your property will be inspected. During the first five-year period, there’s a 50 percent chance that your property will be inspected. The stated goal is that within 10 years, all rental properties will be inspected at least once.
Landlords are required to hire a city-certified inspector to inspect the property. So once you have been notified that your property will be inspected, check the city’s list of approved and qualified inspectors. They don’t set the bar too high to become a certified inspector and because of this, you’ll find a varying degree of proficiency among inspectors. They usually charge $100 to $150 for the inspection, and then $75 if they have to come back to re-inspect. The inspection is meant to look for health and safety problems such as potential fire hazards. They can cite you for roofs, peeling paint, and little items like tripping hazards. Find an inspector who is not driven by the re-inspection fee but is proficient. If your property does not pass the inspection, you have 30 days to correct the problem and have it re-inspected. You can ask for an extension when you have larger repairs to make.
If you need any help navigating this ordinance, or understanding Seattle property management, please contact us at Real Property Associates.