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Rental Safety Inspections

The intent of the Safety Inspection Program (RR&SIP) is to ensure that Bellingham's residential rental housing meets specific health and safety standards and to promote compliance with these standards so that the health and safety of tenants is not jeopardized. Inspections will address the items found on the Final Inspection Checklist (PDF)

Will my property be inspected?

Although there are certain exemptions, the majority of rental properties that register with the RR&SIP will be required to be inspected once every three years (approximately).

How will I know my unit needs to be inspected?

About 30 days prior to the beginning of your neighborhood inspection quarter, a postcard (or letter) will be mailed to the primary contact's address listed on the account. This correspondence will contain the pre-assigned date / time of the inspection (if you have chosen to use a City of Bellingham Inspector) as well as which units have been selected for inspection.

IMPORTANT: The inspections are assigned to two hour blocks of time in which the inspector may arrive onsite, City inspectors are not able to guarantee an exact time of arrival. Please contact the rental registration team at 360-778-8361 (or rentals@cob.org) at least 48 hours in advance of your assigned date / time if:

  • You need to change the appointment date/time,
  • If you have an appointment with the City, but wish to use an approved private inspector instead, or
  • Have questions / concerns about what to expect

What is my role in this process?

Provide Notice to Tenants: Prior to the inspection occurring, written notification of intent to allow an inspector to enter must be provided to the tenant of that unit as required by (RCW 59.18.150(6)). (see our FAQ webpage for notification requirements). 

Ensure Access to unit for Inspector: Property owners are not required to be onsite unless they personally want to meet with the inspector; however, an adult must be present onsite during the inspection (which typically will last no more than 20 minutes) to provide access to the property.

Provide Email if applicable: We do as much corresponding by email as possible, so if you have an email but did not enter it on your application, send us a quick note at rentals@cob.org. If there is no email on file, we are happy to mail the invoice (if necessary) to the primary contact listed.

Is there a charge for the inspection?

Yes, the program does require a fee for the inspection. The inspection fee can be paid prior to, or immediately following the inspection visit. The fees can be paid with check, cash, money order, or credit card. Please reference your license # or address when submitting payment. 

What can I expect after the inspection has been completed?

A Statement of Compliance will be issued once the unit has passed (or passed with conditions) and all outstanding fees have posted to your account. We will email (or mail if no email is provided) the certificate to the primary contact we have listed, and it will also be made viewable on your 'dashboard' if you use our online permitting / license program to manage your license.   

City Inspector vs. Private Inspector

Property owners have the option to use a City of Bellingham inspector or a qualified private inspector who has passed the RR&SIP 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;
  • Washington State licensed home inspector; or
  • Other acceptable credential 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.