Adding Roommates

Tenants may add roommates as additional occupants in accordance with the following:

  • Exemptions
    • Owner occupied rentals
    • Federally assisted housing  
  • Tenants can add to their household
    • Immediate family (broadly defined
    • One additional non-family roommate 
    • Immediate family of the additional non-family roommate     
    • Not to exceed legal occupancy standards (federal, state, or City)
  • Immediate family is broadly defined to include: Spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, adult persons related by marriage, siblings, persons 16 years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, and persons who have a parent-child relationship, including parents, stepparents, grandparents, adoptive parents, guardians, foster parents, or custodians of minors. For purposes of this definition, "dating relationship" means a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors a court may consider in determining the existence of a dating relationship include: (a) the length of time the relationship has existed; (b) the nature of the relationship; and (c) the frequency of interaction between the parties.
  • Tenants are required to inform you in writing within 30 days of adding someone to their household.  
  • Screening
    • A non-family roommate (a) can be screened, (b) can be denied occupancy based on screening.
    • Immediate family (a) can be screened, (b) cannot be denied occupancy.
    • Screening charges are allowed in compliance with the Rental Agreement Regulation Ordinance (SMC 7.24) and the state landlord tenant act. Be consistent to avoid any fair housing violations.  
    • Screening criteria must be the same for all added household members as for the original tenant.
  • The Rental Agreement
    • A non-family roommate can be required to join the rental agreement. 
    • You can require a non-family roommate to join the rental agreement with 30-days written notice. If the roommate does not join the rental agreement in 30 days, they must vacate within 15 days. (45 days total)
    • Immediate family cannot be required to join a rental agreement nor be denied occupancy. They can be listed as authorized additional occupants.  
    • A landlord can deny occupancy to a non-family roommate who does not meet screening criteria.
    • Except for a screening fee, no other move-in charges can be applied to the added household member. All original terms of the rental agreement remain the same. 
    • You cannot increase housing costs for added household members unless provided for in the rental agreement and you must give the proper notice for any housing cost increase.
  • Occupancy standards
    • The following are City of Seattle occupancy standards/regulations. The roommate bill acknowledges occupancy standards to include federal, state, or other applicable occupancy laws that may apply.
      • Floor area and occupancy standards are contained in the Housing and Building Maintenance Code (HBMC) (SMC 22.206.020).
      • Single-family zoning permits up to 8 unrelated people or any number of related people. Up to 12 unrelated people may reside in a lot with 2 accessory dwelling units (ADU) (SMC 23.44.041). 


Renting in Seattle

Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 2000, Seattle, WA, 98124
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 34019, Seattle, WA, 98124-4019
Phone: (206) 684-5700
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