The Seattle City Council is considering legislation that would allow the city to proactively inspect rental housing for compliance with dwelling standards. Current rules are lax, only requiring an inspection if a renter complains. The council's Committee on the Built Environment will be discussing the measure within the hour; you can watch it live.

The mayor's office issued this statement in favor of the program:

Seattle’s current system is complaint-based—we cannot do anything unless a tenant complains about bad conditions in rental housing. Some tenants won’t complain if their landlord won’t make repairs, others won’t complain because they fear retaliation or a rent increase; others are unaware complaining to the City is even an option; and some won’t call a government agency for help because of language or cultural barriers. Requiring inspections for all rental units levels the playing field and assures all tenants safe rental housing that, at a minimum, meets housing code standards.

We appreciate Councilmember Clark’s work on this bill. Due to a law passed by the legislature this session, the law must be passed by June 10th or it cannot be passed at all. If you wish to weigh in on this legislation, contact information and a FAQ is below.

To illustrate the need for a stronger law, the mayor's office cites recent rental offenses, including a crawl space with a dirt floor rented to a married couple, an apartment shared by six people with a toilet in the kitchen, and a college student sleeping in the furnace room. There's lots more information, including an FAQ, here.