According to BMC 6.15, all residential rental properties (apartments, homes, duplexes, ADUs, etc.) within Bellingham city limits are required to be registered with the City. A list of all registered rental properties (PDF) is maintained on the City’s website.
Do I need to register if I am renting out bedrooms in the property I own and live in?
No, you would not be subject to a rental registration license, but you may be required to obtain a short-term rental license depending on how the bedrooms are being rented out.
A rental license is valid until the end of the current calendar year, regardless of which month it was registered in. Please use City IQ to make sure the property you are registering falls within the City of Bellingham. Some “Bellingham, WA” addresses are for properties that are actually in unincorporated areas and not within Bellingham city limits.
You can register your property in one of the following ways:
Exempt from fees and inspection, not registration:
Housing units that can be described using any of the following criteria are required to register the property, but will not be required to pay registration fee or be subject to inspections on the unit.
- Owner-occupied buildings containing two units
- A single family residence that the owner occupies with an accessory dwelling unit that is rented out;
- A single family residence with an accessory dwelling unit that the owners occupies;
- A single family residence that has been converted into two apartments, one of which the owner occupies; or
- A duplex in which the owner occupies one of the units.;
- Units owned, operated or managed by a government agency or authority or are specifically exempted from a fee by state or federal law, however, once government ownership, operation or management ceases so does the exemption for fee payment;
- Rental units that receive funding or subsidies from federal, state or local government, and that are inspected at least once every three years as a condition of that funding; and
- Accessory dwelling units that are attached to a single family residential unit AND the owner of the property resides in either of those housing units.
Exempt from the entire RR&SIP:
Housing units that meet one of the following criteria are exempt from participating in the program at this time.
- Units unavailable for rent or outside the city limits;
- Accommodations in hotels, motels, inns or similar facilities for transient guests (except for units occupied by non-transient guests);
- Retirement or nursing homes and housing within any hospital or State licensed medical care facility, service care facility, convent, monastery or other housing occupied exclusively by members of a religious order;
- Mobile or manufactured homes (these fall within the jurisdiction of Washington State Labor and Industries); and
- Shelters for transitional housing.
Rental licenses must be renewed by December 31st to be valid for the upcoming year (regardless of which month it was registered in). For example: If a new Rental Registration is submitted in March 2022, that license is valid until December 31, 2022 – and must be renewed by 12/31/2022 to be valid for 2023.
The City will send out invoices about 6 weeks prior to the end of the year, once the invoice is received the annual renewals can be completed in one of the following ways:
- Online – Log-in to the online permitting / license program to pay the fee for those units already attached to your dashboard. Use this “how to” guide for step-by-step instructions on renewing your license through the etrakit system.
- In person / By mail – fees can be paid with check, cash, money order, or credit card to the City of Bellingham Finance Department – 210 Lottie Street Bellingham, WA 98225. Please make checks payable to: “City of Bellingham” and reference your license # or rental address when submitting payment.
There are no additional registration forms needed when renewing an active license.
Processing: We do as much correspondence by email as possible, so if you have an email but did not enter it on your application, send us a quick note at email@example.com. If there is no email on file, we are happy to mail the invoice to the primary contact listed.
Invoice: Registration fees, as determined by the Program Fee Schedule, can be paid with check, cash, money order, or credit card. Please reference your license # or address when submitting payment. Use this “how to” guide for step-by-step instructions on paying your license fees through the etrakit system.
Certificate of Registration: A Certificate of Registration will be issued once the application has been processed and the $10.00 fee has posted to your account. We will email (or mail if no email is provided) the certificate of registration to the primary contact we have listed, and it will also be made viewable on your ‘dashboard’ if you use our online permitting / license program to manage your license.
- Planning & Community Development Department
- Landlord and Tenant Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
- How To – Register New Rental Online
- How To – Renew Rental License Online
- Pay Fees Online
- Rental Program Fee Schedule
- Registered Rental Properties (PDF)
Planning and Community Development Department
Rental Registration Specialist
(360) 778-8361 or firstname.lastname@example.org