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Know Your Rights » During Your Tenancy » Seattle Laws

Housing & Building Maintenance

The Seattle Housing and Building and Maintenance Codes establish further requirements for landlords and tenants in the city limits. It also sets minimum standards for providing adequate heating in rented housing units. Seattle tenants can report code violations to the DPD and they will send inspectors out to take a look at the problem and follow up with the landlord. The DPD Landlord Complaint Line phone number is 206-615-0808, or you can file a report online at Filing A Complaint.

The Maintenance code also defines acts by owners that are prohibited in the city of Seattle and may be considered to be harassment or retaliation against the tenant. They include changing the locks in a unit, removing doors, shutting off utilities, self-help evictions, entering without proper notice, evicting or increasing the rent of a tenant who reports code violations to the DPD. Seattle Police Department, not the DPD, has the authority to enforce this section of the code, but still often do not get involved in landlord-tenant matters. You can still call the non-emergency police number at 206-625-5011 and show them a copy of the law (SMC 22.202.010). The Housing and Building Maintenance Code also prohibits certain behaviors by tenants. It is unlawful for a tenant to harass an owner or retaliate against an owner by changing the locks on the unit, intentionally damaging the unit or removing appliances or fixtures supplied by the landlord.

The Seattle Housing and Building and Maintenance Codes also specifically entitle Seattle tenants to the right to organize in their buildings. See Right to Organize for more information.