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Rental Business License

In October 2003, the Tacoma City Council adopted legislation that recognized the rental of real estate as a business activity.  This recognition began in January 2004. 

Purpose of Rental Business License

It has been statistically demonstrated that some rental facilities are responsible for a disproportionate share of police and emergency medical calls for service and blighted property conditions. The license fee provides revenues to the City’s general fund to support crime prevention training, education, inspection, and code enforcement services. Licensing is also a tool to hold property owners accountable for conditions and activities on their properties.

Rental Business License FAQs

Who needs to get this license?

Any person who rents or leases out real property within the city limits of Tacoma must obtain a rental business license.


What if I own multiple properties in Tacoma, do I need a license for each property?

One business license will cover all properties owned by the same legal entity. If the properties are owned by separate legal entities, then a license is required for each entity. Owners must provide a list of all of their City of Tacoma rental properties with application.

I have a property management company manage my property for me.  Do I still need a rental business license?

Yes, as a rental property owner a rental business license is required. A property management company located within the City of Tacoma has their own business license requirement for the management activities they conduct.

As a property owner am I responsible for business or other activity that occurs on my property and conducted by my renter?

A property owner is responsible for taking action to prevent or discontinue an activity occurring on their property that is found to be illegal, causing a high amount of calls for service or that meet the City’s nuisance criteria.  Under the City’s Nuisance Code, the Notice of Violation is sent to the property owner listed on Pierce County Assessor records, not the renter/business owner.  It is recommended that property owners become aware of the type of business or other activity occurring on their property and periodically check on the property and its condition.

How do I apply?

To apply for a license, complete the Application for Registration and Rental Business Licensing and submit it to:

City of Tacoma
Tax & License Division
747 Market Street
Room 212
Tacoma, WA 98402-3770

What if I have sold or am no longer renting the property?

Notify the Tax and License Department with an email.  Please include your name and contract account number.  We will close your account and remove you from any further mailings. This inbox is not checked daily, therefore if you have questions regarding the rental business licenses or need additional information please call Tax and License at (253) 591-5252 to speak to a customer service representative.

How do I update my rental property address?

To update your rental property address, use the Supplemental Rental Property License Application.  You may mail your updated form to our office or send it via email.  Be sure to include your contract account number on the form.

What is the Crime Free Housing Program?

The Tacoma Crime Free Housing Program (CFHP) is a public safety partnership that assists residents, owners and managers of rental properties in keeping drugs and other illegal activity off their property.

What if I am a landlord or tenant with additional questions?

Are you a landlord or a tenant with questions about Landlord Tenant Laws?  The City of Tacoma is focused on improving the quality of life for the citizens of Tacoma by providing housing related services to housing providers who own and/or operate housing within the City of Tacoma limits. Use our resource guide or contact us using the information below.

Office of Equity and Human Rights 
747 Market Street
Tacoma, WA 98402
Phone: (253) 591-5000

Provisional Rental Property License Effective January 1, 2012

Tacoma Municipal Code Chapter 6B.165

Ordinance 27967 amending Title 6B of the Tacoma Municipal Code added new Chapter 6B.165, Provisional Rental Property.


The Tacoma City Council finds that rental housing is a valuable community asset, providing homes for all income levels.  The City recognizes that quality rental housing is a partnership between owners, tenants, and the City.  The City finds that three to five percent of homes in Tacoma are below the minimum building standards and appear to violate RCW 59.18.060.

As a result, to ensure the public health, safety, and welfare of its citizens and the maintenance of quality rental housing for Tacoma citizens, the City Council is establishing a residential provisional rental property license program to prevent and correct conditions in residential rental units that adversely affect or are likely to adversely affect the health, safety, and welfare of the public. It is the purpose of this section to assure that rental housing within the City is actively operated and maintained in compliance with RCW 59.18.060. Providing for a provisional rental property license is intended to address that small percentage of housing that endangers renters and bring that housing into compliance with state law. 


Provisional Rental Property License FAQs

What is the Provisional Rental Property License?

The provisional license is a regulatory license that the City can require property owners to obtain. One of the requirements of the provisional license is a certificate of inspection that will demonstrate that their property does not endanger the health or safety of tenants. The provisional license is based on State Legislation adopted in 2010 and consistent with the Landlord-Tenant Act.

Who does it affect? Do I have to apply for a Provisional Property License?

The provisional license is not required for all rental property owners. The provisional license only applies to rental housing units after a complaint is received and after an initial exterior building inspection demonstrates that the building condition does not meet the established threshold for tenant health and safety.  Homeowners will be contacted by City officials if their property needs a Provisional Rental Property License.

How do I obtain additional information?

For more information regarding the Provisional Rental License, read the FAQ Sheet or contact Tax & License at (253) 591-5252. To ensure your property meets the standards set forth in the State Landlord Tenant Act, Title 59, Section 59.18.060, download the Guide to Residential Rental Inspection form. 

Do you need a residential inspector?  

If you have been notified that you need to obtain a Provisional Rental License and need a residential inspection the City has a list of qualified inspectors that have taken the City of Tacoma training class.  The class reviews the requirements of the Provisional Rental Property License and what to look for during an inspection.  You may also obtain your own inspector as long as they meet the criteria of a qualified inspector defined in TMC 6B.165.

What if I am an inspector?

To be added to the City's list of inspectors, please contact Dan McConaughy at (253) 591-2047 for more information. Inspectors should use the Provisional Rental License Residential Inspection form.  

Additional Information

For additional information, contact the Tax and License Department at (253) 591-5252.