BTU supports our members and other Bellingham tenants maintain healthy and stable rental housing. If these resources don't solve your issue or answer your question, don't hesitate to reach out to us. We can advocate on your behalf and use our relationships with elected leaders, city staff, and tenant attorneys to help you.
Know Your Rights
Legal Aid / Keeping your housing / Conflict Resolution / Tenant Counseling
LAW Advocates. This critical Bellingham non-profit provides free legal assistance to low income renters at their weekly walk-in tenant clinics, every Friday at 12:30 on the 5th floor of the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave. Their phone number is 360-671-6079.
Housing Lab. An excellent wide-ranging resource for tenants: they can help you search for housing, keep your housing/appeal evictions, navigate landlord-tenant law, mediate landlord conflict and more. You can access their free services every Tuesday from 10:00 am to noon at 625 Cornwall Ave. Their phone number is 360-603-0377.
CLEAR (Coordinated Legal Education Advice and Referral) is Washington toll-free legal hotline for income-qualified tenants. You can call CLEAR Monday-Friday from 9:15 am to 12:15 pm at 888-201-1014.
TU Tenants Rights Hotline is a free resource with trained non-attorney Tenant Counselors to assist you with questions about landlord-tenant laws and discuss strategies to prevent housing loss. The number is 206-723-0500. The hotline is open Monday – Thursday from: 10am-12:30pm and 1:30-4pm, and Friday from: 10am-12:30pm. Interpretation is available in many languages.
Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center. This is a resource for resolving landlord-tenant, tenant-tenant, and neighborhood conflicts. If you file for Small Claims, the WDRC offers to mediate for free at no additional cost. You can try free mediation before filing and save the Small Claims court fee. There are many benefits for tenants to mediate, such as it won't negatively affect credit like court can. You can contact Gayle LaCroix, their Small Claims and Community Case Manager to learn more.
BELLINGHAM-Specific LAWS and resources
Tenants have a right to safe housing under the city's Rental Safety and Inspection Program. Your home should meet all the standards listed in this rental safety checklist. However, some landlords exploit a loophole in the program to hire corrupt private inspectors that falsify inspection reports. If you have a an issue with substandard housing conditions can call the city's Permit Center or submit a Code Enforcement Request (pdf).
Tenants in Bellingham benefit from the following protections thanks to an ordinance passed in 2018 by Councilmember Dan Hammill's and April Barker’s leadership and BTU's organizing.
Discrimination is banned by landlords against people with housing assistance;
60 day notice required for all rent increases over 10%; and
60 day notice required for no-cause evictions.
If you're being discriminated against and your rights are being violated, we strongly recommend you submit a Code Enforcement Investigation Request to the city. We then recommend that you contact CLEAR and LAW Advocates for legal aid, as listed above.
We hope these resources were of help.
If you aren't getting the support you need, contact us and we will do our best to help.