How We Respond

What Is It?

This page covers:

  • What happens when a complaint is filed
  • The inspection process
  • How a complaint case progresses through the system

What It Isn’t

This page does not fully cover how to make a complaint or the specific steps you should take if your property has been cited.

The Process

After we receive a complaint, we send an inspector to the property to see whether there is a violation. If we do not find a violation, the inspector closes the case with no further action.

If we do find a violation, the inspector will tell the property owner and/or the person causing the violation by issuing a warning, citation, or notice of violation. We will also give you other information that tells you about the violation and how to fix it, and whether you have to make repairs, stop an activity, or get a permit.

For very serious violations, we may issue a "Stop Work" or "Emergency Order."

Depending on the type of notice, you may be given a certain amount of time to fix the problem before being subject to penalties, or penalties may begin immediately. Compliance dates can range from the next day to up to two months.

We will conduct a second inspection on or after the date given in the warning or notice. If you have fixed the problem by the time the inspector re-inspects, we will close the case. If you cannot fix the problem in time, you may be able to request an extension. If you do not fix the problem in a reasonable amount of time, the case may be referred to the City’s Law Department. We will continue to conduct inspections and fines will continue to accumulate until the matter is resolved.

Is It an Emergency?

Note: Life-threatening emergencies and/or after-hours noise complaints should be reported to 9-1-1.

We treat emergency conditions differently. The compliance timeframe is very short, usually a few days. If your violation is not corrected, we may close your building and require all occupants to leave, and charge you fines. If you violate a “stop work” order, you may face criminal charges.

Emergencies include:

  • No water
  • No heat
  • Raw sewage leaks

We may also treat certain construction violations as emergencies, such as those that create a danger to public health and safety. In those cases, we may issue a stop work order, or a hazard correction order for the most serious violations. We may also issue a stop work order for working without a permit.

What Types of Notices Are Issued?

Citations are like parking tickets: they state a violation and assess a fine right away. Your options are to:

  • Pay the fine
  • Ask for a hearing to contest the violation
  • Correct the violation and ask for the fines to be reduced or eliminated at a hearing

Notices of Violation (NOVs) provide a specified amount of time, usually 30 to 60 days, to correct a code violation. You can request a review of the NOV if you disagree with the notice. If the violation is not fixed in time, your fines will accumulate.

Inspection Charges

We will inspect your property twice, for no charge, on a housing or land use complaint. We will charge you for all subsequent inspections until you fix the violation. These charges are billed to the property owner and are in addition to any fines or penalties. We may refer unpaid fines to the City's collection department.

Ways to File a Complaint

(For more detailed information on our complaint process, visit our Make a Property or Building Complaint page.)

  • Visit the Seattle Services Portal
  • Call our violation complaint line at (206) 615-0808
  • Send a letter to SDCI Code Compliance, 700 Fifth Ave., Suite 2000, P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA 98124-4019

Checking Complaint Status

To obtain the status of your complaint, you will need either the address of the property or the case number. You may track our investigation process by:

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.