Housing Quality Standards (HQS) - Types of Inspections
- Initial Inspections
ln order for a unit to be approved for participation in the rental assistance program, it must first be inspected by a Hialeah Housing Authority (HHA) staff inspector to determine if the unit meets the Housing Quality Standard (HQS) requirements. This inspection will be scheduled with the owner once the RFTA is received and the proposed rent has been determined reasonable. The inspection will not be scheduled until the unit is unoccupied and all utilities are on. A unit can be occupied when the tenant is leasing the unit at the time the voucher is issued and wishes to remain in it. If the unit fails the inspection, a notice will be sent to the owner detailing the deficiencies, once the repairs have been completed the HA will schedule a re-inspection.
- Annual Inspections
To comply with HUD regulations annual HQS inspections are conducted within 12 months of the initial or previous annual inspection. Notification is mailed to the landlord and tenant approximately 14 days in advance. Tenants are responsible for providing access to the premises; failure to comply may result in termination of assistance. Written notification will be sent to both tenant and landlord outlining the deficiencies found and the party responsible for correcting the violations. Re-inspections will be automatically scheduled 30 days from the date of the first inspection; if it fails again for the same violations, the property will be abated as per the terms of the HAP Contract.
- Special/Complaint Inspection
These are done at the request of the landlord or the tenant and are normally due to a complaint. Violations should be corrected using the same time frame as the annual inspections. Failure to comply may result in abatement or termination of assistance.
Emergency (24 hours) Inspections
An emergency inspection will be performed upon request when a condition poses an immediate threat to the safety or health of the family. If the following types of violations are found the deficiencies must be corrected within 24 hours and the re-inspection scheduled for the next day.
- No running water, electricity or gas (when needed for range or heat)
- Major plumbing leaks, flooding or sewer back up
- Gas leaks or fumes
- Uninhabitable units due to fire or natural disaster
- No operational sanitary facilities
- Electrical fixtures that sparks, short circuits or smokes, creating a fire hazard
- Any condition that jeopardizes the security/ safety of the unit
- Quality Control Inspections
These are performed to comply with HUD requirements where a percentage of the units inspected must be selected at random and re-inspected to determine the quality of the previous inspection.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is responsible for providing the inspector access to the unit?
For initial inspections of vacant units, the owner is responsible for providing access; failure to comply may result in cancellation of the Request for Tenancy Approval (RFTA). For occupied initial inspections, the tenant is responsible for providing access. If two scheduled HQS inspections are missed, due to the tenant's failure to provide access, the family will be denied or terminated for failure to meet the family obligations.
How do the inspectors decide whether to pass or fail an apartment?
The inspectors will perform the inspections based on the (HUD) Inspections Checklist which are used as a guideline to determine if the unit meets HQS standards. One single failure item on this checklist will result in a failed inspection. The inspector must determine whether the reason for the failed inspection was landlord or tenant caused and whether this represents an emergency or not.
What happens if the inspection fails?
- On failed initial inspections - A detailed result of the failed items will be provided to the landlord/tenant. The applicant will have the option of waiting to see if the owner will correct the failed items within a reasonable time or continue a housing search. If applicant chooses to wait, the owner must notify HHA that the failed items have been corrected and a re-inspection of the unit must be scheduled to confirm unit meets HQS requirements.
- On emergency (24 hours) inspections - In these cases, the owner will be notified via fax or telephone regarding the emergency condition. The owner will have 24 hours to repair the unit before a re-inspection occurs. If the failed item(s) are not corrected, the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) will be suspended on the first of the month following the failure date, and will not be reinstated until there is a passed inspection result. (For failure items under this category, please refer Emergency (24 hours) Inspections section above).
- Non-emergency, tenant responsibility - The tenant will have 28 to correct the failed items. A re-inspection will be scheduled to verify if the items were corrected. If not, the HHA will initiate termination of assistance.
- Non-emergency, landlord responsibility - The landlord will receive a First Failure Notice and a copy of the inspection report within 3-5 business days from the date of the inspection. The owner will have 28 days to complete repairs before re-inspection. If the unit fails for a second time, it will be abated. (Please refer to Abatements section)
What if a landlord cannot obtain access to make repairs?
An owner's Housing Assistance Payments will not be abated in an HQS violation is the owner's responsibility and the tenant refuses to give the owner access to the unit to make the required repairs. In this situation, the owner must document attempts to gain entry by notifying the HHA in writing of the situation and include copies of any correspondence sent to the tenant requesting entry to make repairs. If the tenant refuses to allow entry after the owner's documented attempts, the HAP contract will be terminated and the owner should consider initiating eviction proceedings.
If there is a disagreement with a determination that a failure was either landlord or tenant caused, can you appeal the decision?
If there is a disagreement with an inspector's determination, both the tenant and landlord have the option to appeal the decision by contacting the HHA's HQS Department and presenting all evidence that the failure was the fault of the other party. If a supervisory inspection is needed, one will be scheduled. During this time, if the party that the failure was attributed to chooses not to make the repairs and the correction period passes, HQS enforcement (abatement or termination of assistance) will take place. However, if it is decided that the initial determination was wrong and the failure was the other party's fault, reversal of the HQS enforcement will take place and the proper course of HQS enforcement will begin.