City to launch rental safety inspections this summer

New program ready to start in June

April 12, 2016 - by Kurt Nabbefeld, Planning and Community Development

​The new Rental Registration & Safety Inspection Program is ready to start rental inspections in June of this year.

The City Council approved the new program in March 2015, and since then the City has registered 18,836 units on 5,906 different rental properties around the city.  Of those, 2,789 were exempt from inspection due to being publicly funded housing units.  Based on the criteria for multi-unit properties, 9,275 units need to be inspected.

“Inspections will focus on fire and life safety, outlined in the Inspection Checklist,” said Jim Tinner, Bellingham’s building official.  Each inspection costs $100 per unit and will be processed using TRAKiT, the City’s new permit software system.

The City is divided into three inspection zones to account for the three years in which the ordinance requires that each property be inspected.  Each inspection zone is broken down by neighborhood boundaries, allowing each neighborhood to be fully inspected at the same time.  Due to the newness of the program and the fact that the inspections are starting half-way through the year, it is anticipated to take 3.5 years to complete the first three-year cycle.

“Because the south third of Bellingham contains one of the highest concentrations of rental units, and a large proportion of student housing, I determined this area would be inspected first,” said Planning & Community Development Director Rick Sepler.

Inspections will be scheduled a month in advance with written notice sent to the contact identified on the submitted rental registration.  The City will schedule properties using a geographic information system (GIS) based approach that optimizes the inspector’s efficiency on the ground.

Those rental owners who choose to use private inspectors are required to provide an affidavit from their inspector and pay a $45 administrative fee. Private inspections must occur within the assigned time frame of the rental property’s corresponding inspection zone.  A list of certified private inspectors is posted at

For other questions, please contact the Rental Registration Specialist at 360-778-8361 or

Media Contact

​Kurt Nabbefeld, Development Services Manager
Planning & Community Development

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