Rental Resources

City of Lakewood's Rental Housing Safety Program


Fundamental Purpose of Program

On August 1, 2016 the Lakewood City Council approved ordinance No. 644 creating a Rental Housing Safety Program. This program requires all residential rental properties (apartments, single family homes, duplexes, etc.) within Lakewood city limits to be registered. The program is designed to ensure that all rental housing units comply with specific life & safety standards and are providing a safe place for tenants to live. As of October 1, 2017, all rental property owners will be required to register their property with the City every year and have the property inspected once every five years.

How to Register

All residential rental housing properties are required to be registered annually through the City’s electronic registration portal. The registration process is as follows:
  1. Each taxpayer/property management company (person responsible for individual rental property) will be required to create an account using their email address and create a password.
  2. The entity that creates the account will be responsible for paying required fees, responding to the City’s request for inspection, addressing potential deficiencies of the property, and renewing the business license annually.
  3. Once an account has been created, individuals can search for their rental properties using the electronic database.

Program Fees

For year one (2017/2018) the City Council has approved the following fees:
  • Multifamily Unit License Registration Fee: $12 per/unit
  • Single Family Unit License Registration Fee: $12 per/unit
  • Failed Unit Re-Inspection Fee: $125 per/unit
Should a rental property owner choose to have a City of Lakewood inspector conduct the rental housing inspection for a rental property, the fee for the initial inspection is included in the rental housing registration fees above. If a rental unit fails inspection, additional inspection fees must be paid by the rental property owner prior to re-inspection. Additional inspection fees are determined by the City of Lakewood Master Fee Schedule. The cost for a third-party RHSP certified inspector must be paid by the rental property owner. If a rental unit fails initial inspection, additional inspection fees must be paid by the rental property owner. A list of certified inspectors can be found on the City of Lakewood’s Rental Housing Safety Program website.

Program Details

Inspection: All rental properties, unless exempted in accordance with LMC 5.60.025, as described in Article II of the RHSP Administrative Rules, will be required to be inspected at a minimum of once every (5) five years. Property owners shall schedule re-inspections no later than the fifth year after the initial Certificate of Compliance has been issued for a rental property. Re-inspections are the responsibility of the property owner and are due no later than December 31, (5) five years from the issuance of the Certificate of Compliance. The City will issue a new Certificate of Compliance to each rental property that has successfully completed the registration process and has submitted a passing inspection or re-inspection for a rental property in accordance with the conditions identified in the applicable City of Lakewood RHSP Inspection Checklist. All RHSP inspections must be conducted by a City inspector or a third-party RHSP certified inspector as defined in Article XVII of the RHSP Administrative Rules.

Certificate of Compliance: Each rental property or complex shall be issued a Certificate of Compliance with the RHSP. In order to receive a Certificate of Compliance for a property or complex, the rental property owner must have completed the registration process and submitted a passing inspection or re-inspection for a rental property, in accordance with the conditions identified in the applicable City of Lakewood RHSP Inspection Checklist. Inspections/re-inspections must be completed by a third-party RHSP certified inspector or the City of Lakewood inspector certifying the rental property is in compliance with the Rental Housing Safety Program prior to the expiration of the current Certificate of Compliance. Successful completion of registration and submittal of inspection/re-inspection to the City is required to issue a Certificate of Compliance. A Certificate of Compliance is valid until December 31, (5) five years from the issuance of the certificate. Expired certificates are not valid

Exemptions: The following rental units are exempted from the Rental Housing Safety Program as provided in LMC 5.60: Rental housing units occupied by owner or by parent or child of owner; Units unavailable for rent; Any facility such as a hotel, motel, resort, or any other facility or place offering three or more lodging units to guests for periods of less than thirty days, provided that if any guest resides for a period of thirty days or more, then such facility shall be subject to the RHSP. Housing accommodations in retirement or nursing homes; Housing accommodations in any hospital, State-licensed community care facility, convent, monastery or other facility occupied exclusively by members of a religious order, or an extended medical care facility; Rental units that a government unit, agency or authority owns, operates or manages, or that are specifically exempted from municipal regulation by State or federal law or administrative regulation. This exception does not apply once the governmental ownership, operation or management is discontinued; Newly constructed rental units with satisfactory certificate of occupancy and no code violations for ten years from the date of the certificate of occupancy; Rental units: That receive funding or subsidies from the federal, state or a local government; and That are inspected at least every three years as a requirement of the funding or subsidy; and That provide a copy of the inspection to the City; and For which the Director or Designee determines that the inspection is substantially equivalent to the inspection required under the RHSP; Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) / Guest Houses / Condominiums / Townhouses; Mobile and manufactured homes; Shelters and transitional housing; Housing units which may be exempt from inspection as may otherwise be provided by law. (Ord. 644 § 4, 2016.)

Components of Program Inspections: A rental inspection shall consist of the following health and safety components, including: (i) inspection of structural members to ensure they are of sufficient size or strength to carry imposed loads with safety; (ii) conditions that lead to exposure of the occupants to the weather; (iii) plumbing and sanitation defects that directly expose the occupants to the risk of illness or injury; (iv)the provision of facilities adequate to supply heat and water and hot water as reasonably required by the tenant; (v) the provision of heating or ventilation systems that are functional and are non-hazardous; (vi) defective, hazardous, or missing electrical wiring or service; (vii) defective or hazardous exits that increase the risk of injury to occupants; and (viii) conditions that increase the risk of fire, including the presence and functionality of smoke & carbon monoxide detectors. These components are consistent with RCW 59.18.030 (1). Additionally, consideration shall be made for conditions that endanger or impair the life or safety of a tenant as provided in RCW 59.18.060.

Additional Resources

For questions about this program, contact the Rental Registration Specialist at 253-983-7850 or email at [email protected].