Kent’s Rental Housing Inspection Program has begun

Starting this month, apartment and 4-plex owners will be required to conduct inspections every three years to ensure their units are safe and healthy for their tenants.

The city developed the program in partnership with local community organizations based on concerns voiced by renters about health and safety issues in their apartments such as heating, plumbing and electrical. “It was pretty eye-opening to hear of residents dealing with basic quality-of-life issues like a broken heater or leaking roof,” said Erin George, Current Planning Manager for the City of Kent. “This program is specifically aimed at solving those problems and improving living conditions.” Kent City Council adopted the RHIP ordinance in 2018.

Letters went out last week to landlords who own properties in the first inspection area, North East Hill. The program will divide the city into three segments with Highway 167 and James Street as the boundaries:

  • 2019:  North East Hill (North of James St.)
  • 2020:  West Hill/ Valley
  • 2021:  South East Hill (South of James St.)

Each property must have 20 percent of their units inspected by a qualified private inspector hired by the landlord from the city’s approved list. Properties that do not meet the health and safety standards will need to make repairs and pass a re-inspection prior to renewing their business license; failure to do so may result in penalty fees and business license revocation.

Landlords can expect a $13 per unit program fee with their business license and a $15 per building fee for online submittal of inspection results. Online submission will open May 1 with proof of passed inspection required by November 1.

Tenants can expect to receive up to two notices from their landlord: the first notifying them about the program and the second if their unit is selected for inspection. 48 hours’ notice to tenants is required by state law.

The following housing types are exempt from the inspection requirement: single-family homes, duplexes, townhomes, condos, mobile homes, manufactured homes, hotels, motels, institutions, shelters, transitional housing and rental units owned, operated, managed or inspected by a government agency.

“It’s important that all Kent residents have a safe and healthy place to live. Creating the Rental Housing Inspection Program is a huge step toward holding landlords accountable and improving living conditions in rental units throughout the city. Other cities have implemented similar programs with great results,” said Erin George, current Planning Manager. “We are excited to be able to offer the same type of program to Kent residents.”

Here’s a video with more information:

For more information, visit KentWA.gov/rentalhousinginspection.