Random Rental Safety Inspections Begin This Month

Apartment KitchenLast year, the city of Seattle implemented the Rental Registration and Inspection Ordinance (RRIO), which requires all Seattle landlords to register their rental properties and have them inspected for basic maintenance compliance, and this month random inspections will begin. While the city has previously relied on renters registering complaints as a way to ensure landlords are performing maintenance, the ordinance aims to establish a system of regular checks on properties to make landlords are adhering to basic standards across all units. The 2009 American Housing Survey reported that an estimated 10 percent of the 148,000 rental units in Seattle had “moderate to severe” physical problems. The new requirements apply to units in both apartment buildings and rental houses.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Department of Planning and Development is planning to inspect about 2,000 units this year, with a goal of inspecting 6,000 annually going forward. Inspectors won’t be showing up unannounced – landlords will be given 60 days notice to make sure they’re complying with the RRIO checklist, which includes items such as ensuring there is a functioning heat source in every habitable room and bathroom, no leaks in roofs or windows, and making sure all toilets flush. Properties will be inspected at least once every 10 years.

The DPD is hoping the clear guidelines will increase awareness among landlords and rental property owners of what basic standards are for their rental properties, and decrease the reliance on tenant complaints.

If you are interested in renting in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today.

Average Rent In King Co. Up 8% Over Year

belltown rental homeDespite apartment buildings sprouting up all over the city, Seattle’s rental rates seem to be defying the laws of supply and demand. With more than 600 apartment units forecast to hit the market on Capitol Hill alone this year, and 12,000 in the King/Snohomish/Pierce county region, one might expect that an excess of units would cause rents to level off, or even fall. But according to The Seattle Times, the average rent for a one bedroom in King County has risen by 8 percent over the past year to $1,266 per month.

Looking for cheap rent? Move to Seatac, where the average rent for a one-bedroom is a mere $784 per month. Willing to pay top dollar to live in a luxurious high rise? Rent a one-bedroom in Downtown Seattle or South Lake Union for an average of $1,871 per month. Among all Seattle neighborhoods, Ballard saw its rents increase by the highest percentage over the year, having risen 13.1 percent to an average of $1,533, despite the number of available units doubling over the past five years. Magnolia saw the most stability in its rental market, with rents only rising by 1.4 percent. Rents in most of Seattle’s central neighborhoods are hovering around $1,500 per month.

Tom Cain, of research firm Apartments Insights Washington, told The Times that he does not expect rents to fall, in part due to Seattle’s job market keeping demand for apartments extremely high, and also because Seattle’s home-buying market is so challenging right now. A dearth of affordable homes to buy is forcing many to continue renting.

If you are interested in renting in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.