Prohibited Acts

See also: Evictions, Housing Cost increasesJust Cause Eviction Ordinance, Notice to Enter a Rental Unit, Renting in Seattle

What Is It?

The Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) prohibits certain actions by landlords or tenants that directly interfere with the tenancy or the landlord’s property rights. These “prohibited acts” are enforced by the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. Please call Renting in Seattle at (206) 684-5700 for more information.

Prohibited Acts by Owners. A landlord may not:

  • Change locks on a tenant's door
  • Remove any door, window, fuse box, fixtures, furniture or other equipment from a tenant's unit
  • Shut off any utility service provided by the landlord
  • Remove a tenant from their housing or premises without legal process
  • Evict, increase the rent, reduce services, increase a tenant's obligations or threaten a tenant after they have filed a complaint with SDCI, the Seattle Police Department, or has otherwise asserted their rights as a tenant
  • Enter a tenant’s housing unit or premises without appropriate notice, except in an emergency or when a tenant has abandoned the premises
  • Prohibit a tenant from communicating about building affairs or tenant organizations, including:
    • Distributing leaflets
    • Posting material on community bulletin boards
    • Contacting other tenants
    • Assisting tenants to organize and hold meetings at reasonable times within the building that are not attended by building management
  • Increase the monthly housing costs* without 180 days' advance written notice 
  • Increase monthly housing costs* where a housing unit does not meet basic standards for habitability

*Housing costs include rent (as defined by RCW 59.18.030(29)) and any other periodic or monthly fees such as storage, parking, or utilities, paid to the landlord by a tenant. 

Harassing or Retaliating Against an Owner. The tenant may not:

  • Add or tamper with any lock
  • Remove or tamper with equipment, fixtures, furniture, or services provided by the landlord
  • Intentionally damage or cause others to damage the landlord’s building or premises

Read the Code

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.