Jason Ruffing, Enforcement Supervisor, No Phone Number Available
Tuesday, January 2, 2024 at 3:12 p.m.
This page refers to Long-term Rental properties (30+ days). If you are looking for information on registering a Short-term Rental property (under 30 days), please visit the Short-term Rentals page.
The City of Spokane appreciates all landlords, property managers and agents of property owners who registered their long-term (30 days or more) rental properties in December after the announcement of the new registration process that went live on Dec. 1, 2023. The registry, created as a result of the City Council passing the Regulation of Residential Rental Housing in March 2023, is focused on preserving housing stock, maintaining safe living spaces and creating and maintaining a database to track rental units in our community.
Thank you for your patience during the first month of the program as the City worked out the bugs that came with standing up the new initiative. Your valuable input and questions brought those to light so they could be addressed as soon as possible and improve the system.
In future years, the annual registration window for long-term rentals will be open in November and December for the following year, allowing more time than this first year. So far, in the first month of the program, more than 1,700 applications for registration have been received.
A few recent hiccups in the new program, including technical hurdles that have been addressed and Department of Revenue delays to obtain business licenses as part of the process, have underscored the need for the City to be flexible during this education phase of the initiative.
For those who are still in the process of registering or are just now hearing about the process, please complete the process as soon as possible. Accela Citizen Access (spokanepermits.org), the City’s online application, will remain open early this year. If you’re still waiting for your business license, we encourage you to go ahead and complete the online registration process as the license can be submitted once your receive it. The City has reached out to landlord and property management groups as well as issued a press release, posted on its website, social media and other communications channels about the program. If your group would like to hear about the program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While voluntary compliance is the goal, for the landlords who don’t register their properties in early 2024, Spokane Municipal Code speaks to Section 08.01.270 on failure to make an application. If a landlord fails to file an application and to pay the registration fee, the City’s Taxes and Licenses Division or Code Enforcement Department may determine the amount and issue a Class I notice of infraction pursuant to SMC Chapter 1.05. Landlords are subject to SMC 10.57.020, failure to comply with the residential rental registry requirement set forth in SMC 10.57.020(E). If Code Enforcement staff identifies a long-term rental property that is operating without a license and without the property being registered, staff will send a notice of violation to responsible parties for the property advising of the need to register the property. Code Enforcement staff also is planning to work on software solutions in 2024 that will assist in identifying long-term rental properties that may not have voluntarily registered.
If online access is needed to register properties, a computer will be available in the Development Services Center on the Third Floor of City Hall from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Registration form hard copies are also available at City Hall. The in-person option is also available for anyone who needs technical assistance.
The intent of the ordinance is to require business licenses for owners/operators of rental properties, to create a rental registry and to reiterate existing standards and habitability expectations and enforcement mechanisms for rental housing in the City. The goal of the rental property registry is to obtain property information, organize contact information for responsible parties and to gather data and streamline reporting. Additionally, the registry will help facilitate routine, periodic inspections and compliance efforts starting this year. There are thousands of rental units in the City, and the registry will help determine an estimated number.
The business license has an annual fee of $127. Licenses for rental properties are obtained through the Washington State Department of Revenue. The ordinance also establishes a $15 per rental unit fee that will be paid as a part of the rental registry application. The initial inspection and initial re-inspection (if needed) that are conducted by Code Enforcement staff will not have a fee. However, if subsequent inspections are needed at specific properties due to violations not being adequately addressed, additional safety inspection fees may be assessed. Voluntary compliance is the goal for any deficiencies observed.
Code Enforcement staff will begin coordinating and conducting registry-based inspections in early 2024. In the meantime, the department will continue to respond to complaints for substandard conditions at properties across the city, including rental properties. Complaints can be submitted using 311. If you’re unable to process your request online for any reason, you can also call 311, or 509.755.CITY (2489), from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and they can assist with filling a complaint on your behalf.
Common violations inspectors observe would include lack of hot water, exposed wiring, water leaks, inadequate weatherproofing and other similar issues. Code Enforcement evaluates building maintenance and habitability issues using the list of substandard building deficiencies detailed in the Existing Building and Conservation Code, found in SMC 17F.070.400. The new rental housing ordinance did not adopt new habitability or maintenance standards. Rental properties do not have to come up to new construction standards. If we note a maintenance or habitability deficiency, correction for that deficiency may require a permit, application of current code and inspections by Development Services Center staff, but that new code application is still limited to that new work that is occurring.
To respect a person’s privacy, Code Enforcement staff will request legal access to perform the inspection from inside of the property lines and dwelling units. The aim is to ensure safe living conditions.
The ordinance also established expectations for civil matter issues and other rental housing topics that are more legal in nature.
For more information, see these resources:
For questions on the long-term rental registry, email email@example.com. For questions on obtaining a business license for operating a rental property business in the City, call the Washington State Department of Revenue at 360.705.6741 or City of Spokane Taxes and Licenses at 509.625.6070.
Please note that this program is separate than the program related to short-term rental monitoring.