Housing Quality Standards (HQS) Inspections
In order to provide decent, safe and sanitary conditions in all assisted homes, SAHA conducts annual inspections on all housing units participating in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. In addition to Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspections, random quality control inspections are conducted on at least 10% of the participating units to ensure program compliance and to confirm that repairs are consistent with current industry standards. SAHA’s HQS inspection policies are located in Chapter 8 of the Housing Choice Voucher Program's Administrative Plan.
Types of HQS Inspections
- Initial/Move-In Inspections: SAHA conducts initial inspections to approve a unit for participation in the HCV program. The unit must pass the HQS inspection before any Housing Assistance Payments can be paid to the owner; therefore, it is best if the family does not move into the unit before approval.
- Annual Inspections: HUD requires SAHA to inspect each unit under lease at least annually to confirm that the unit still meets HQS. The inspections may be conducted in conjunction with the family's annual reexamination, but is typically conducted separately.
- Special Inspections: A special inspection may be requested between annual inspections by the owner, the family or a third party as a result of problems identified with a unit between annual inspections.
- Quality Control Inspections: HUD requires that a sample of units be inspected by a quality control inspector to ensure that HQS is being enforced correctly and uniformly by all inspectors.
Commonly Failed HQS Items:
- Unit must be in “made ready” status. “Made ready” status is defined as a unit that is ready for immediate move-in; for example, units must have all utilities on, a working stove/refrigerator, no trash/debris on site and working heating/cooling equipment (regardless of time of year).
- Units built pre-1978 can’t have any chipping or peeling paint inside or outside the unit. This also applies to the exterior of secondary buildings, playgrounds, railings and common areas of the property.
- Stove/Refrigerator must be clean and in working order (no missing kick plates or torn door seals, etc.).
- Ensure electric, plumbing and gas services are operating in a safe manner and present no danger to occupants. For example, units must not have electric hazards, plumbing leaks, missing/broken P-traps under sinks, gas leaks, etc.
- All windows must have working locks or a permanently attached locking device.
- All windows must be in good working condition and able to remain open. Window panes cannot be missing, broken or cracked (cutting hazard.) Plexiglas is not an acceptable repair for glazed windows.
- All common areas will be inspected for safety hazards (Laundry room/pool area, etc…).
- The roof must not leak; Indications of a leak are discolorations or stains on the ceiling.
- The hot water heater tank must have a temperature pressure relief valve with a downward discharge pipe.
- Floor covering cannot be torn nor have holes/cracks that can cause a tripping/cutting hazard.
- Stairs and railings must be secure. Handrails are required for steps with four or more consecutive steps or 30 inches or higher above the ground such as around stairwells, balcony, walkways, etc.
- There should be no trip hazards such as gaps/cracks greater than ¾ inch on sidewalk, walkways, driveways, common areas, etc.
- Working smoke detectors are required in all bedrooms and adjacent hallways. See manufacturer’s specifications for proper installation.
- All conversions/additions must pass HQS inspection and be properly permitted by City or local agency having jurisdiction over the unit. SAHA may request copies of approved permits.
- All security/burglar bars must have a quick release mechanism (cannot use key, tool or special knowledge to open).
- Double-keyed deadbolts, also known as double cylinder locks, are not allowed at any location.
These commonly failed HQS items are just a small sample of the required HQS items. You can find the entire list of HQS items in Chapter 8 of the Assisted Housing Programs Administrative Plan.
The family must allow SAHA to inspect the unit at reasonable times and after reasonable notice. "Reasonable notice" is considered to be not less than 24 hours, except in the case of a life-threatening emergency. In the case of a life-threatening emergency, SAHA will give as much notice as possible, given the nature of the emergency.
Inspections may be scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m on business days and an adult (age 18 or over) is required to be present during the inspection.
If the family misses a scheduled inspection without SAHA approval or if the inspection notice is returned by the post office with no forwarding address, SAHA may consider the family to have violated its obligation to make the unit available for inspection.
The family may request to reschedule an inspection for good cause, or if it is needed as a reasonable accommodation for a person with disabilities. "Good cause" is defined as an unavoidable conflict that seriously affects the health, safety, or welfare of the family. Requests to reschedule an inspection must be made orally or in writing and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. SAHA may request documentation of the "good cause" prior to rescheduling the inspection.
The family is responsible for any HQS deficiency caused by the family, including the following:
- Tenant-paid utilities not in service;
- Failure to provide or maintain family-supplied appliances; or
- Damage to the unit or premises caused by a household member or guest, beyond normal wear and tear. "Normal wear and tear" is defined as physical deterioration which occurs in the normal course of tenancy, without negligence, carelessness, accident or abuse of the unit or premises by the household members or guests.
The owner is responsible for all HQS violations not listed as a family responsibility above, even if the violation is caused by the family's living habits (e.g., vermin infestation). However, if the the family's actions constitute a serious or repeated lease violation, the owner may take legal action to evict the family or submit documentation of the serious or repeated lease violation to SAHA as evidence that the family breached its obligations.
If SAHA cannot determine the cause of an HQS deficiency, the owner will be responsible for correcting the item.
Inspection Resuilts and Reinspections
The owner and the family will be notified in writing of the results of all inspections. Generally, SAHA will send the owner and the family a written notification of the inspection results within 5 business days of the inspection. Generally, no more than 30 days will be allowed for all HQS deficiencies to be corrected. SAHA will conduct a resinpection immediately following the end of the corrective period or any SAHA-approved extension.
Self-certification of Corrective Action
In lieu of conducting a physical reinspection to verify corrections of five or fewer HQS deficienceies that are not considered life-threatening, SAHA may accept a self-certification of repairs signed by the landlord and tenant. All self-certifications are subject to a quality control inspection. Self-certifications are not accepted for move-in/intiial inspections.
Inspections Department Contact Information
Phone: (210) 477-6208
Fax: (210) 477-6147
Assistant Inspections Manager
Phone: (210) 477-6149
Fax: (210) 477-6147