The Kent City Council recently approved a Rental Housing Inspection ordinance during its March 20 meeting. The Rental Housing Inspection ordinance will require that apartment owners have a sampling of their units inspected every 3 years, to ensure that basic maintenance is being done and that the units are not creating health problems or a dangerous situation for tenants.
“The Rental Housing Inspection program sprang from the grass roots of Kent’s tenant community, who worked to bring our attention to maintenance problems in their homes.” Said Economic and Community Development Deputy Director Matt Gilbert. “The City will work with landlords to help make sure apartment units are kept in safe and healthy condition. Since rental housing makes up about 46 percent of housing units in Kent, most of which are apartments, we expect this program to help a lot of Kent residents.”
The City Council directed staff to begin developing the program in late 2016. With help from Living Well Kent and Futurewise, the City hosted a number of stakeholder meetings and researched similar programs developed by other cities.
“Since 2014 Living Well Kent has been working in advancing toward achieving the vision of changing policies and creating healthy environments for Kent residents including refugees and immigrants.” Said Shamso Isaak, Executive Director for Living Well Kent.
According to the ordinance, landlords will be required to hire professional inspectors to check apartments for maintenance of basic health and safety standards. Successful inspections must be completed prior to issuance of an annual business license, which apartment owners are already required to obtain.
Owners who are out of compliance will be assessed a penalty of $100 per day for each day that a residential housing unit operates without a valid and current business license, for the first 10 days of noncompliance, and up to $400 per day for each day in excess of 10 days of noncompliance.
The cost of the program will be off-set by increased annual business license fees for apartment rental owners, initially anticipated to be $12 per unit.