Local

Top stories of 2016: Many rental units fail first city inspection

Rob Barker, building inspector with the City of Bellingham, works through a rental follow-up inspection in the 500 block of Boulevard on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, in Bellingham.
Rob Barker, building inspector with the City of Bellingham, works through a rental follow-up inspection in the 500 block of Boulevard on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, in Bellingham. eabell@bhamherald.com

In mid-2016, the city started its first round of inspections under the Rental Registration and Inspection program.

More than 40 percent of the first units inspected, which were in the Sehome Neighborhood, failed their first inspections.

They failed for a variety of reasons, such as missing carbon monoxide detectors, emergency exit windows that couldn’t open, locks that could only be locked from the inside with a key, exposed wiring, leaking plumbing, missing or unstable handrails, and gas appliances located in sleeping rooms.

The York Neighborhood was up for inspection next, and as of Dec. 21, at least 155 units failed their first inspections, for similar safety reasons.

The city’s rental safety program is centered on ensuring rental properties follow life-safety laws, and bringing living spaces into compliance.

More than a third of the first rental units inspected in Sehome were done by private inspectors, who do not give the city detailed checklists of the issues in the units. Instead, private inspectors simply provide a declaration of inspection stating the unit has passed.

In York, 148 properties had been privately inspected, and 90 had submitted the declaration they passed as of Dec. 21, according to the city.

Information about what the inspections require, and which neighborhoods are up for inspection next can be found at cob.org/rentals.

Samantha Wohlfeil: 360-715-2274, @SAWohlfeil

  Comments