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Rental Safety Inspections

The majority of rental properties that register with the RR&SIP will be required to be inspected once every three years (see the exemptions page for a list of properties that are exempt from inspections). 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). 

IMPORTANT: The inspection must be completed by the end of the inspection quarter, and all fees due to the City must be paid upon receipt of fee sheet / invoice.  

Unit 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)

Pre-assigned Appointments

About 30 days prior to the beginning of the inspection quarter, your neighborhood has been assigned to, 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 will be inspected for those properties with more than four (4) units total.

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 a qualified private inspector instead, or
  • Have questions / concerns about what to expect

Inspection Fees

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.  

  • In Person / By Mail: Payments can be brought or mailed to Finance Department, 210 Lottie St., Bellingham WA 98225.
  • Online: Visit www.cob.org/epermits and log-in to account - click on the unpaid fees to prompt payment screen

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.

​Inspection Fee Re-Inspection FeesMissed Appointments

​​City of Bellingham Inspector: $100.00 / unit

Private Inspector: $45.00 / unit (this fee is paid to City, in addition to what is paid directly to the private inspector)

First Re-inspection: No Fee

Second Re-inspection: $50.00

Final Re-inspection: $50.00

$25.00 each
Late Fee (1-60 days late)No Payment (90 days late)

$50.00 (for 1-4 Units)

$125.00 (for 5-20 Units)

$250.00 ( 21+ Units)

License is suspended and code enforcement action may be taken

Statement of Compliance

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.