The goal of the Housing Choice Voucher Program is to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing at an affordable cost to low-income families. To accomplish this, program regulations set basic Housing Quality Standards (HQS), which all units must meet before assistance can be paid on behalf of a family and at least annually throughout the term of the assisted tenancy. HQS defines standard housing and establishes the minimum criteria necessary for the health and safety of program participants.
HQS Inspections can raise many questions. There are four types:
An initial inspection must take place to ensure that the unit passes Housing Quality Standards (HQS) before assistance can begin. An initial inspection is conducted once the Request for Tenancy Approval is processed. Landlords are typically notified by telephone for initial HQS inspection appointments.
If a unit fails the initial inspection, the owner may have up to 30 days to complete all repairs and call the Inspections Office to schedule a reinspection. If the unit fails the second inspection, the intended contract will be canceled and the family will be required to select another unit.
An annual inspection determines that the unit continues to meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS) and must be conducted within 12 months of the anniversary date of the last full inspection. The family is notified that it is a family obligation to allow the Housing Department to inspect the unit at reasonable times with reasonable notice (24 CFR 982.51(d)).
Landlords and tenants are responsible for providing access as scheduled. The family and owner are notified of the date and time of the annual inspection appointment by mail. If a unit fails the first inspection, the landlord and/or the tenant will complete all repairs within 30 calendar days as determined by the Housing Inspector (24 hours if the defect is life-threatening or required for livability).
No shows are considered a failed inspection.
A special inspection is caused at the request of the owner, family, an outside agency or third-party. If at any time the family or owner notifies the Housing Department that the unit does not meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS), the Housing Department may conduct an inspection. In most cases to conduct a special inspection, tenant must provide notice of deficiencies to the landlord and provide the Housing Department with a copy. The Housing Department also may conduct a special inspection based on information from third parties such as neighbors or public officials.
The Housing Department will inspect the items that were reported, but if the Inspector notices additional deficiencies that would cause the unit to fail HQS, the responsible party will be required to make the necessary repairs. If the anniversary date of the annual inspection is within 120 days of a special inspection, the special inspection will be categorized as annual and all annual inspection procedures will be followed.
Quality Control Inspection
Quality control inspections are supervisory inspections conducted on at least 5 percent of the total number of units that were under lease during the Housing Department's previous fiscal year. The purpose of the quality control inspection is to ascertain that each inspector is conducting accurate and complete inspections, and to ensure that there is consistency among inspectors in the application of the Housing Quality Standards (HQS).