Safety Inspections

When a rental property is due for inspection, property owners have the option to use an inspector with the City of Bellingham or a qualified private inspector (see below for additional information). ​The intent of the Safety Inspection Program (RR&SIP) is to ensure that Bellingham’s residential rental housing meets specific health and safety standards and to promote compliance with these standards so that the health and safety of tenants is not jeopardized.

Both the city inspectors and the private inspectors will be reviewing the same items as outlined on the Safety Inspection Checklist. They will arrive at the unit within a 2-hour block of time and spend approximately 15-20 minutes performing the inspection. *IMPORTANT: An adult (property owner, tenant, managing agent, or other designee must be present for the inspection.

After the property has received an inspection result of passed or passed with conditions and the safety inspection fees have posted to the account, a Statement of Compliance will be sent to the primary contact for their records. In the case of a private inspection, the Declaration of Inspection must be submitted to the City via mail (210 Lottie Street, Bellingham WA 98225) or email ( to show the unit has passed.

The city will send out a Notice of Inspection to the primary contact listed on the account. The notice will include the following information:

  • The dates of the inspection quarter (based on the inspection timeline)
  • The inspection preference for the applicable rental units (City or Private)
  • The date the city inspector will be visiting the unit(s) or the final date for the Declaration of Inspection to be submitted (private inspector)

*NOTE: Tenants will need to be provided written notification of the inspection 48 hours (or more) in advance of the date/time assigned according to RCW59.18.150(6).

The city has been split into three inspection zones made up of a cluster of neighborhoods. Each neighborhood will be assigned an inspection quarter over the span of approximately 3.5 years, as shown below.

Inspection Zone 1​Timeline
Sehome​April – June 2022 (wrap-up)
January – March 2020 – postponed due to Covid-19
York​July – September 2022
Happy Valley​Mid-January – April 2023
​South Hill / Fairhaven / Edgemoore / SouthMay – August 2023
Inspection Zone 2​Timeline
RooseveltSeptember – November 2023
Puget / SamishJanuary – March 2024
Alabama Hill / Silver Beach / Whatcom FallsApril – June 2024
Barkley / Irongate / King MountainJuly – September 2024
Inspection Zone 3Timeline
City Center / Lettered StreetsOctober – December 2024
Sunnyland / ColumbiaJanuary – March 2025
Birchwood / Cornwall ParkApril – June 2025
Meridian / CordataJuly – September 2025
Dates are approximate and subject to change

The inspector (regardless of preference choice) should:

  • Arrive at the rental property on the prescheduled date and time (for city inspectors this is a two-hour window of time.
  • Conduct the inspection using the Safety Inspection Checklist and provide the results (passed, passed with conditions, or failed) to the primary contact listed on the license.
    • The inspection is anticipated to last approximately 15-20 minutes.

Whether you are a tenant, property manager, or the property owner, you should:

  • Be present for the two-hour block of time to allow the inspector access to the unit (unless another adult will be there) and remain onsite for the duration of the inspection.
  • Know that it is totally appropriate to request to see the inspector’s ID prior to allowing entrance to the unit.
  • Ask any questions that you may have on the notes the inspector is making during the inspection.

After receiving the notice of inspection from the City, a property owner/property management agency may be interested in changing who performs the inspection (City of Bellingham vs. Private Inspector).

Changing from Private Inspector to City of Bellingham Inspector

  1. Notify the Rental Registration and Safety Inspection Program team that you are interested in switching preferences. They can be reached at (360) 778-8361 (phone) or (email).
  2. You will be assigned a date and a two-hour window that can accommodate the number of units that require an inspection.
  3. The fees will be adjusted from a $45.00/unit program fee (separate inspection fees would have been paid directly to the private inspector) to a $100.00/unit inspection fee (program fee included).
  4. A new Notice of Inspection/Invoice will be provided by the City.

Changing from City of Bellingham Inspector to a Private Inspector

  1. Cancel any appointments with the City of Bellingham inspector by calling the Rental Registration and Safety Inspection Program team at (360) 778-8361 (phone) or (email).
  2. Select an approved qualified private inspector and schedule the inspection to occur prior to the end of the applicable inspection quarter;
    • NOTE: It is necessary to only schedule inspections for those units the City has indicated in the Notice of Inspection.
  3. The fees will be adjusted from a $100.00/unit inspection fee (program fee included) to a $45.00 program fee (separate inspection fees will be paid directly to the private inspector).
  4. A new Notice of Inspection/Invoice will be provided by the City.
  5. After the inspection has been completed, submit the Declaration of Inspection (provided to you by the inspector) to the City.

If an inspector identifies items on the checklist that do not meet standards, the inspection may receive a failed result. The property owner/managing agent will need to make arrangements for those items to be corrected in a timely manner. Depending on the severity of the issue, a re-inspection may be required once corrections have been made.

In cases where the rental property is deemed uninhabitable and the tenants must be moved out, the Building Official should be notified immediately at (360) 778-8307 or (360) 778-8300. 

For more information on corrections and re-inspections, contact the City of Bellingham Building Official at (360) 778-8316 or



​Planning and Community Development Department
Rental Registration Specialist
(360) 778-8361 or