Housing Quality Standards
HOUSING QUALITY STANDARDS (HQS) INSPECTIONS
To provide decent, safe and sanitary conditions in all assisted homes, DETRHA conducts, at minimum, biennial 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. DETRHA’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: DETRHA 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/Biennial Inspections: HUD requires DETRHA to inspect each unit under lease at a minimum biennially to confirm that the unit continues 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 move-in ready. 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).
Working smoke detectors are required in all bedrooms and adjacent hallways. See manufacturer’s specifications for proper installation. Please ensure that all smoke detectors have batteries installed and are working.
The hot water heater tank must have a temperature pressure relief valve with a downward discharge pipe.
Units built pre-1978 may not have any chipping or peeling paint inside or outside the unit. This also applies to the exterior of the unit including railings, steps and common areas of the unit.
Stove/Refrigerator must be clean and in working order (no missing kick plates or torn door seals, etc.).
Electric, plumbing and gas services must operate 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.
The roof must not leak; Indications of a leak are discolorations or stains on the ceiling.
Floor covering cannot be torn nor have holes/cracks that can cause a tripping/cutting hazard.
Stairs and railings must be secure. A handrail is 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 3/4 inches on sidewalk, walkways, driveways, common areas, etc.
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.
Manufactured homes must have skirting.
Rent Reasonableness certifications will be completed to determine if the requested rent is reasonable as compared to an unassisted unit when considering the location, quality, size, type, age, amenities, housing services, maintenance and utilities to be provided.
Rent Reasonableness certifications are conducted for initial inspections, prior to approving a rent increase requested by the owner or manager, and when there is a five percent decrease in the published FMR.
REQUEST FOR RENT INCREASE
If you would like to request a rent increase, please submit a Request For Rent Increase to our office at:
1405 Kurth Drive
Lufkin, TX 75904-1929
by fax: 936-632-5916
or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The unit must be HQS compliant before an increase may be approved.
Rent increases may be submitted to our office not more than 120 days and not less than 60 days in advance of the effective date of the requested increase. An owner may increase the unit rent any time an increase is allowed under the terms of the lease. The owner must give the tenant at least 60 days advance notice of any changes in the amount of rent to the owner and must provide a copy to our office. The allowed rent increase is the lesser of the following:
The reasonable rent as determined by the PHA; or
The amount requested by the owner.
The owner must give the tenant at least a sixty (60) day written notice of an increase before it can go into effect. A copy of the notice provided to the tenant and the tenant's acknowledgment of the increase must be submitted to DETCOG before the rent increase can take effect.
The new rent amount must be reasonable in comparison with other similar units in the area. Once DETCOG receives the notice of rent increase, a rent comparability study is conducted to determine if the new rent for the unit is reasonable in comparison to unassisted private market units in the area. If it is determined that the rent is not reasonable, DETCOG will contact the owner and advise him/her of a reasonable rental amount for the unit. If the owner does not agree to the amount, the Housing Authority and landlord will have to negotiate another acceptable amount or the owner can provide the family with a notice to vacate.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is My Unit Inspected After The Initial Inspection?
Yes. DETCOG must inspect all units at minimum biennially to ensure program compliance. In addition, in the case of an emergency or complaint by the landlord, tenant, Housing Authority, or general complaint, a special inspection will be done.
Does the owner have to be present when the inspection occurs?
No. There must be a responsible adult present, age 18 or over, to let the inspector into the unit. We advise that landlords be present for the initial inspection. This is an opportunity for you to find out first hand why the unit did not pass inspection. Special inspections, Emergency and Quality Control Inspections do not require the owner to be present and may be completed with minimal or no notification to the landlord.
What Will The Inspector Be Looking For?
The housing inspector will be checking to see if the unit is in compliance with Housing Quality Standards (HQS). These are minimum standards that any unit rented under the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program must meet. Utilities must be on and owner-supplied appliances in the unit and working before an HQS inspection can be conducted. If the tenant is responsible for the stove and/or refrigerator, DETCOG will allow the stove and refrigerator to be placed in the unit after the unit has passed all other HQS items. The tenant must then certify that the appliances are in the unit and working. The DETCOG may not conduct a re-inspection.
Utilities must not be master-metered. Generally, at initial lease-up the owner is responsible for demonstrating that all utilities are in working order including those utilities that the family will be responsible for paying. Those utilities for which the family will be responsible for paying must have individual meters to determine individual family usage and costs. If a utility has a shared meter, the landlord is responsible for the cost.
Who is responsible for repairs?
As the landlord and property owner you are responsible for basic maintenance and normal wear and tear of the unit. You must make repairs that are your responsibility within a reasonable amount of time (generally 30 days) or DETCOG will hold or abate your Housing Assistance Payments. Damages caused by your tenant, members of your tenant's household, or your tenant's guest are the tenant's responsibility.
What happens if the tenant damages the unit?
As with any tenancy, repairs for tenant-caused damages are the responsibility of the tenant. DETCOG does not reimburse the landlord for tenant caused damages. You should collect a security deposit and enforce your lease provision in the same way you would with any other tenants you rent to on the open market. You should seek reimbursement from the tenant for any damage repair costs paid on the tenant's behalf. If the unit does not pass the annual inspection because of something your tenant is responsible for, then your tenant will need to have repairs made within a reasonable amount of time (generally 30 days unless an emergency 24 hours item) or the family's assistance will be terminated.