City of Bellingham Passes Rental Registration Ordinance

Whether you agree with it or not, a rental registration program will be implemented in the City of Bellingham in August 2015, and will require any landlord owning and renting income property within city limits to get registered, paying a registration fee of from $8.00 to $10.00 per rental unit, by August 1.  The ordinance passed it’s third and final vote in City Council session on March 23, 2015.

The registration and inspection program was sponsored by Council member Jack Weiss who had been pushing for a rental safety program for six years.

According the City website rental registration page, “There are an estimated 15,000 rental units in Bellingham. Based on data from other jurisdictions with similar programs, the City anticipates 10-15% of those total units would be considered substandard at inspection. The RR&SIP creates a system to address and monitor rental property issues without the need for a tenant to complain first.”

Landlords will pay an annual registration cost of $10 per unit if they own one to 20 units, and $8 per unit if they own 21 or more units.

Initial registration will open July 1st, 2015 and close August 1st, 2015 with inspections scheduled to begin in early 2016. Failure to comply with registration will result in fines and/or penalties of between $50-$250 per day depending on the number of units, if registration is one to sixty days late. If registration is more than two months late, the fine may be greater.

Information on how to register will be sent to property owners starting in May, and also will be posted on the city website at

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Late fees can be assessed on those who don’t register. If registration is one to 60 days late, the late fee will range from $50 to $250, depending on how many units that owner has. If registration is more than two months late, the fine may be more.

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The City of Bellingham wil