Latecomer Agreements

Projects with utility system improvements required as a condition of property development are eligible to apply for a Latecomer Agreement. These utility system improvements are typically water, sewer, or drainage main extensions, valve installations on water mains and associated appurtenances. Each Latecomer Agreement applies to only one utility: water, sewer, or drainage. If your project has requirements for multiple utilities, you may choose a Latecomer Agreement for only one utility, or separate Latecomer Agreements for different utilities. Utility Latecomer Agreements last for 20 years.

Steps to create a new Latecomer Agreement

1. SPU identifies a utility improvement requirement for a development project.

2. The applicant submits the following for Latecomer Agreement.

The deadline to apply for a Latecomer Agreement is prior to approval of infrastructure design or Water System Valve Contract execution.

3. SPU develops the Latecomer Agreement during review of the project.

4. SPU and the applicant sign the Latecomer Agreement Contract.

5. SPU notifies the benefitting parcels of the upcoming Latecomer Agreement.

6. The utility is constructed. The project owner must submit the itemized costs using the Final Cost Worksheet (XLSM format) within 120-days of completion of the utility.

7. SPU reviews and approves final construction costs.

8. The Latecomer Agreement Contract is updated based on the final construction costs.

9. Applicant pays SPU the Recording Fee for each benefitting parcel that will be encumbered.

10.SPU records the Latecomer Agreement with King County.

11.SPU notifies benefitting parcels of the finalized Latecomer Agreement and records the encumbrances for each parcel with King County.

Update Contact Information 

Every Latecomer Agreement owner must update their contact information with Seattle Public Utilities every two years to maintain the terms of the Contract. Use one of the following forms to provide your updated contact information to SPU:

Reimbursement payment process

Any parcel that is subject to a Latecomer Agreement and requests to connect into the utility must pay the Latecomer Reimbursement prior to connection.

Steps in the Reimbursement payment process

1. Benefitting parcel owner requests connection to a utility facility with a Latecomer Agreement.

2. SPU requires payment of Latecomer reimbursement and associated fees prior to connection.

3. Benefitting parcel owner pays SPU the Latecomer reimbursement payment and associated fees.

  • Recording Fee - records removal of the encumbrance of the property.
  • $220 Collection Processing Fee - covers the City's administrative costs of collecting, documenting, and other tasks associated with processing reimbursement payments.

4. SPU records a letter with King County to relieve encumbrance of benefitting parcel.

5. SPU remits payment back to the originating developer.

6. SPU allows benefitting parcel to connect to utility.

When SPU collects a reimbursement payment from a benefitting parcel, it will remit the payment to the originating developer. If the originating developer cannot be contacted or is not responsive, SPU may keep the reimbursement payment.

The City’s authority to administer Latecomer Agreements comes from:

  • RCW 35.91.020
  • SMC 21.80 – Latecomer Agreements
  • ENG-450 (PDF) - Latecomer Agreements for Construction of Utility Improvements - March 15, 2022

A Latecomer Agreement allows developers the potential to recover a portion of the costs of installing the new utility facilities. This means that a neighboring property that benefits from the utility installation by connecting to it will have to pay its fair share of the installation costs of the utility. This neighboring property is a benefitting parcel. In this way, the ‘first-in’ developer doesn’t subsidize these benefitting parcels which connect to the utility in the next 20 years.

The Latecomer Agreement is a means to be more equitable to the ‘first-in’ developer, and includes an equitable cost structure for any benefitting parcel that connects to the new utility improvements. While, at first, it may seem that this is an extra cost to the benefitting parcel, it is a cost sharing mechanism to build the utility infrastructure that the parcel connects to—and the Latecomer payment is certainly more affordable than building the infrastructure from scratch.

In 2013, Washington State Legislature passed a law requiring all municipalities to offer utility Latecomer Agreements to developments that were required to install utility facilities as a condition of development. 

Public Utilities

Andrew Lee, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 4900, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34018, Seattle, WA, 98124-5177
Phone: (206) 684-3000

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Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is comprised of three major direct-service providing utilities: the Water Utility, the Drainage and Wastewater Utility, and the Solid Waste Utility.