The Rental Registration and Safety Inspection Program (RR&SIP) is designed “to protect the public health, safety, and welfare of tenants by encouraging the proper maintenance of residential rental housing.” (BMC 6.15.010) Rental property owners, or their designated representative, are required to register their property with the City of Bellingham. Once a rental property is registered, a health and safety inspection will be performed once every three years.
How does this program benefit tenants?
Currently, tenants with complaints about unsafe living conditions need to file a Code Enforcement Investigation Request with the City. While this will continue to be an option, the RR&SIP creates a system to address and monitor rental property issues proactively without the need for a tenant to complain first.
Tenants can also have the peace of mind knowing that rental properties will be held to a certain standard for health and safety, outlined in the Rental Property Inspection Checklist. Rental property owners who do not comply with those standards will face penalties.
How can I find out if a rental property is registered?
If a rental property has a valid registration, a certificate of registration must be posted in a visible location, in every rental unit or at the very least a shared locations such as lobbies, mailrooms or on-site leasing offices. Alternatively, the landlord may present a copy of the certificate to the tenant at lease signing. Here is the complete list of registered properties to date, this information can also be made available to you by contacting the Permit Center.
Registration certificates have been sent out periodically since September 2015. The City is confident that you should see the certificates either posted in the property or presented at lease signing by now.
Do not sign a lease for a rental property that has not registered with the RR&SIP. If you discover a rental property is not registered, notify the City by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (360) 778-8361.
What do I need to know about the inspection process?
When your rental unit is scheduled for a safety inspection, the owner or manager must provide proper written notice per RCW 59.18.150(6). You are allowed to ask to see the inspector’s ID before they enter your unit. Denying access after proper notice has been given will result in the penalties outlined in RCW59.18.150(8). Remember: the inspector is there looking out for your best interest!
Will this program affect my rent?
The City cannot anticipate what the impact of this new program may have on the rental market, but can provide information on the fees charged by the City to implement the program. This website will be continually updated to help tenants better understand the program’s potential impact.
It might be a while before the property I am renting is inspected. If I currently have concerns with health and safety items on the checklist, what are my options?
If you feel there is an issue at the rental property that requires more immediate attention, file a Code Enforcement Investigation Request with the City.
How can tenants assist with the implementation of this program?
Tenants will play a vital role in the successful implementation of the RR&SIP and can assist in the following ways:
- Encourage the property owner or landlord to register the property;
- Learn about maintenance standards and notify the owner or landlord when things need to be fixed or are not up to standard; and
- Contact the City of Bellingham if the owner or landlord is not complying with the RR&SIP by either not registering or not meeting the maintenance standards.
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