Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance

See also: Tenant Relocation

What Is It?

The Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance has two primary benefits for renters being displaced by development:

  • Provide relocation assistance to low-income households
  • Provide all households with adequate time to search for new housing and move

Renters are considered displaced when their housing is scheduled to:

  • Be torn down or undergo substantial renovation
  • Have its use changed (for example, from an apartment building to a hotel)
  • Have certain rent or income restrictions removed (for example a property is no longer required to rent only to low-income renters under a federal or City program)

Property owners and developers must get a Tenant Relocation License if the project meets the criteria listed above. The license covers all renters in your building. Only low-income renters receive relocation assistance of $5,133.00. Property owners pay half of that amount ($2,566.00) and the City of Seattle pays the other half ($2,566.00).

We will not issue a master use, construction, demolition, or change of use permit for a property where renters will be required to move until we have issued a Tenant Relocation License.

A landlord cannot raise the rent to avoid applying for a Tenant Relocation License. SDCI has authority (Seattle Municipal Code 22.210.136) to investigate rent increases to determine whether the intent of the increase is to avoid the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance. Violations of this ordinance are subject to fines and penalties of up to $1,000.00 per day.

Procedures and timelines:

  • Owner applies for a Tenant Relocation License
  • Owner delivers packets within 30 days of the application to renters who will be affected by development activity
  • Renters have 30 days from the date the packets are delivered to apply for relocation funds
  • After all applications for relocation funds have been reviewed, we mail letters to the owner and to the renters who applied informing them who is eligible for relocation funds
  • Both the owner and the tenant may appeal our eligibility decision
  • The owner has 5 business days after receiving the notice of eligibility to pay the owner’s share to SDCI
  • Once the owner has made full payment, they may issue a 90-day notice of development activity
    • Please note this is not a notice to end the rental agreement. It means the owner will receive a license at the end of the 90 days.
    • The license and at least one permit for the project allows the owner to end the rental agreement with appropriate advance written notice.

What It Isn't

The Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance applies only to rental housing affected by construction, demolition, and other development as well as the removal of rent or income restrictions. Other types of relocation assistance for renters apply in different circumstances (see the common question page about tenant relocation).

We do not require a landlord to pay relocation assistance to a renter who is evicted as a result of a court order in a legal eviction action.

If the construction, demolition, development, or removal of a rent or income restriction is associated with the sale of a residential rental property, then the property owner may also be required to notify Seattle's Office of Housing before the sale. Visit their Intent to Sell ordinance website for more information.

How Much Does It Cost?

SDCI charges a fee to process a Tenant Relocation Assistance license. The fee is based on the number of displaced households. This fee is charged to the developer or property owner and is separate from the owner’s share of relocation assistance paid to eligible tenants. SDCI establishes permit fees by the Seattle Permit Fee Subtitle.

Read the Code

Read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) section about the Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance, SMC 22.210.

Proposed Changes


Construction and Inspections

Nathan Torgelson, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-8600
Phone Alt: Violation Complaint Line: (206) 615-0808
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SDCI issues land use, construction, and trade permits, conducts construction and housing-related inspections, ensures compliance with our codes, and regulates rental rules. SDCI is committed to an antiracist workplace and to addressing racism through our work in the community.