Rental Housing Inspection Program

The City of Burien established a Rental Housing Inspection Program in September 2019 to begin in 2021. The program protects the public health, safety, and welfare of tenants by encouraging the proper maintenance of rental housing by identifying and requiring correction of substandard housing conditions.

Required Rental Housing Types

A health and safety inspection of the following rental housing types located within the City of Burien is required every three years.

  • Apartments
  • Duplexes
  • Triplexes
  • Four-plexes

The following housing types are exempt from Burien licensing and inspection requirements: single-family homes, condos, townhomes, mobile or manufactured homes, units unavailable for rent, short-term rentals, hotels, motels, institutions, shelters, transitional housing, accessory dwelling units, and rental units owned, operated, managed, or inspected by a government agency.

Inspection Zones and Schedule

Every three years, at least 20 percent of a property’s rental units are required to be inspected. Burien has been divided into three rental housing inspection zones for purposes of the rental housing inspections:

Burien Rental Housing Inspection Zones

View the Burien Rental Housing Inspection Zones map (downloadable PDF file).

Inspection Zones

Inspection Dates

Zone 1 (NW) north of SW 152nd St and west of 1st Ave S.

Inspections in 2021 (due October 1, 2021)

Zone 2 (SW) south of SW 152nd St and west of 1st Ave S.

Inspections in 2022 (due October 1, 2022)

Zone 3 (East) east of 1st Ave S.

Inspections in 2023 (due October 1, 2023)

Inspection Process

Step 1:  Unit Selection

Landlords may email the Burien Rental Housing Inspection Program Coordinator at [email protected] for the selection of the rental units to be inspected. Only 20 percent of the units need to be inspected. The email must include the following information for unit selection:

  • Rental property name (if applicable) and address
  • Total number of units and buildings
  • Unit number sequence (A1-10, B1-10)
  • Point of contact’s name, phone number, and email address

Step 2:  Hire an Inspector

Landlords must choose a qualified private inspector from Burien’s approved Rental Housing Inspector Roster (updated October 7, 2021) to inspect the selected units. Inspections are conducted at the landlord’s expense. Burien does not determine the fee charged by private inspectors.

Step 3:  Notification of Tenants

Properties within an inspection year are required to send written notice to all tenants that some units will be inspected, and tenants whose units need repairs or maintenance should send written notice to the landlord as provided in RCW 59.18.070.

Once an inspection is scheduled, landlords must provide tenants of the selected units with at least two days’ written notice of the date and time of the inspection (RCW 59.18.150 (6)).

Step 4:  Inspection

The Inspector must use the City of Burien’s Rental Housing Inspection Checklist. A separate checklist is required for each inspected unit.

Failed Inspection

If any of the checklist items fail, then the inspection fails. The landlord must make repairs made to the deficiencies, and have a re-inspection done.  Certain repairs require a Burien permit, such as alterations, repairs, replacements to electrical, gas, mechanical, or plumbing systems. This downloadable chart explains when permits are required. For questions about permit requirements call 206-241-4647 or email [email protected].

Passed Inspection

If all the checklist items pass, then the inspector and landlord sign the Inspection Checklist and provide a copy to the Burien Rental Housing Inspection Program Coordinator at [email protected] or mail to Burien City Hall, Attn:  Rental Housing Inspection Program, 400 SW 152nd St., Burien, WA 98166.

Passed inspection checklists are due by October 1st of each year for rental properties in that year’s zone.

Step 5:  Certificate of Inspection Issued

After the Burien Rental Housing Inspection Program Coordinator verifies the passed inspection checklist, a Certificate of Inspection will be provided to the landlord, which is valid for three years.


Failure to have rental properties inspected may result in penalty fees and denial or revocation of rental housing business license.

For questions about this program, please contact the Rental Housing Inspection Program Coordinator at [email protected].

Frequently asked questions

Who pays for the inspection?

The landlord selects and pays an inspector from Burien’s Inspector Roster.

What qualifications does an approved inspector have?

A qualified rental housing inspector is a private inspector with 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; or
  • Washington state licensed home inspector.

What properties are exempt from the Burien Rental Housing Inspection Program?

According to Burien Municipal Code 5.62.040, the following residential rental housing units are exempt:

  • Single-family residences.
  • Units that are unavailable for rent.
  • Housing accommodations in a hotel, motel, short-term rentals, or transient lodging.
  • Housing accommodations at an institution, whether public or private, where the residence is merely incidental to detention or the provision of medical, religious, educational, recreational, or similar services including but not limited to correctional facilities, licensed nursing homes, monasteries, convents, and hospitals.
  • Mobile homes or manufactured homes, both as defined in Chapter 59.20 RCW.
  • Shelters and transitional housing.
  • Rental units that a government unit, agency, or authority owns, operates, or manages, or that are specifically exempted from such a registration requirement by state or federal law or administrative regulation. This exemption ends once the governmental ownership, operation, or management is discontinued.
  • Accessory dwelling units.
  • Condominiums and townhomes.
  • A rental property that has received a certificate of occupancy within the last 4 years and has had no code violations reported on the property during that period.

What happens if a tenant denies the landlord/inspector access to the property?

Per RCW 59.18.150(1), "The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter into the dwelling unit to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs…". A tenant who denies access to the property after the landlord has provided the two-days’ written notice as required by RCW 59.18.150(6) may be subject to a penalty of up to $100 per violation as outlined in RCW 59.18.150(8).

Updated December 16, 2021