Rental Resources

City of Lakewood's Rental Housing Safety Program

Inspection Information

The majority of rental properties that register with the Rental Housing Safety Program (RHSP) will be required to be inspected once every five years (see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for a list of properties that are exempt from inspections). The intent of the RHSP is to ensure that Lakewood’s residential rental housing meets specific health and safety standards and to promote compliance with these standards so the health and safety of tenants are not jeopardized. Inspections are scheduled to begin in January 2018 and will address the items found on the Final Inspection Checklists (PDF). These lists are available to view and located on the sidebar.

Inspection Lottery System

Inspections are chosen at random:

The City has determined the number of rental units to be inspected annually (700).

Rental housing properties are identified through the database maintained by Community & Economic Development (CED), and were verified by owners using the online data portal.

Rental housing properties are separated into two categories, single family and multifamily. For property owners, your property designation should appear in the data portal. If you have questions about your property designation, or believe you need to make a change, please contact our rental specialist at rentals@cityoflakewood.us.

The historical percentage of single family and multifamily rental units is applied to determine the number of single family and multiple family rental housing inspections. The numbers are 18 percent for single family and 82 percent for multifamily. Thus, if 700 units are to be inspected a year, 126 would be single family units and 574 would be multifamily units.

These units may be found in apartment complexes. The entire complex itself is not subject to inspection, but a percentage of units within the complex are. Based on RCW 59.18.125:

  • If a rental property has 20 or fewer dwelling units, no more than four dwelling units at the rental property may be selected by the local municipality to provide a certificate of inspection as long as the initial inspection reveals that no conditions exist that endanger or impair the health or safety of a tenant.
  • If a rental property has 21 or more units, no more than 20 percent of the units, rounded up to the next whole number, on the rental property, and up to a maximum of fifty units at any one property, may be selected by the local municipality to provide a certificate of inspection as long as the initial inspection reveals that no conditions exist that endanger or impair the health or safety of a tenant.

The lottery will occur once per year. City of Lakewood will create separate lottery lists for multifamily and single family. A random number generator will be run out of the database for both single and multi-family units. Once the lists have been generated, the 700 units will be identified and property owners will be notified.

Property owners have 9 months from the date they received notice to complete their inspections. Once a unit passes inspection, it will be issued a Certificate of Compliance. Certificates are valid for 5 years; it is the responsibility of the property owner to schedule an inspection by December 31, on the fifth year to maintain their Certificate of Compliance.

A Certificate of Compliance and Rental Business License are not the same. Property owners are required to register their rental and receive a business license each year using the online database.

City Inspector vs Private Inspector

Property owners have the option to use a City of Lakewood inspector or a qualified private inspector who has passed the RHSP inspections training course and possess at least one of the following credentials:

  • American Association of Code Enforcement property maintenance and housing inspector certification;
  • International Code Council property maintenance and housing inspector certification;
  • International Code Council residential building code inspector;
  • United States Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Certified Inspector;
  • American Society of Home Inspectors Certified Inspector;
  • A private inspector certified by the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, the American Association of Code Enforcement, or other comparable professional association as approved by the Rental Housing Safety Program Administrator or Designee;
  • A municipal code enforcement officer;
  • A Washington State licensed structural engineer;
  • A Washington State licensed architect;
  • Washington State licensed home inspector; or
  • Other acceptable credentials the director establishes by rule.
  • Our private inspector webpage contains more details of this option, as well as the program documents private inspectors are required to use.