Housing Quality Standards (HQS) are the HUD minimum quality standards for tenant-based programs. HQS standards are required both at initial occupancy and during the term of the lease. HQS standards apply to the building and premises, as well as the unit. Newly leased units must pass the HQS inspection before the beginning date of the assisted lease and HAP contract.
The PHA will inspect each unit under contract at least annually. The PHA will also have an inspection supervisor perform quality control inspections on the HUD required sample size. This Chapter describes the PHA procedures for performing HQS and other types of inspections, and PHA standards for the timeliness of repairs. It also explains the responsibilities of the owner and family, and the consequences of non-compliance with HQS requirements for both families and owners. The use of the term “HQS” in the Administrative Plan refers to the combination of both HUD and PHA requirements. (See additions to HQS.)
Guidelines and Types of Inspections
All units must meet the minimum standards set forth in CFR 982.401, and in the City of Omaha’s Building/Housing Code. In cases of inconsistency between the City Code and the HQS, the stricter of the two shall prevail.
Inspections will be scheduled 12 months of the fiscal year.
Efforts will be made at all times to encourage owners to provide housing above HQS minimum standards.
All utilities must be in service prior to initial inspections and the effective date of the HAP contract.
If the tenant is responsible for supplying the stove and/or the refrigerator, the PHA will allow the stove and refrigerator to be placed in the unit after the inspection, if after the unit has passed all other HQS, the owner and family certify that the appliances are in the unit and working according to the Housing Quality Standards. The PHA will conduct a reinspection. The lease and contract will be executed and payment made to the owner before the unit passes HQS in the case of tenant supplied stove/refrigerator.
There are four types of inspections the PHA will perform:
- Initial/Transfer: Conducted upon receipt of Request For Lease/Tenancy Approval.
- Annual: Must be conducted within twelve months of the contract anniversary date.
- Special/Complaint: At request of owner, family or an agency or third party.
- Quality Control
Initial HQS Inspection [24 CFR 982.401(a), 982.305]
The PHA will inspect the unit, determine whether the unit satisfies the HQS and notify the family and owner of the determination within 15 days unless the QUALITY CONTROL SPECIALIST/MANAGER determines that it is unable to do so in the stated timeframe, in which case the file will be appropriately documented.
The PHA will make every reasonable effort to conduct initial HQS inspections for the family and owner in a manner that is time efficient and indicative of good customer service.
The Initial Inspection will be conducted to:
- Determine if the unit and property meet the HQS defined in this Plan.
- Document the current condition of the unit as to assist in the future evaluations whether the condition of the unit exceeds normal wear and tear.
- Document the information to be used for determination of rent-reasonableness.
If the unit fails the initial Housing Quality Standards inspection, the (family and) owner will be advised to notify the PHA once repairs are completed.
On an initial inspection, the owner will be given up to 14 days to correct the items noted as Fail, at the inspector’s discretion, depending on the amount and complexity of work to be done.
The owner will be allowed up to 1 reinspection for repair work to be completed.
If the time period given by the inspector to correct the repairs has elapsed, or the maximum number of failed reinspections has occurred, the family must select another unit.
Annual HQS Inspections
The PHA conducts an inspection in accordance with Housing Quality Standards at least annually, 120 days prior to the anniversary month of the contract. Special inspections may be scheduled between anniversary dates.
The landlord must correct HQS deficiencies, which cause a unit to fail unless it is a fail for which the tenant is responsible.
The family must allow the PHA to inspect the unit at reasonable times with reasonable notice. [24 CFR 982.551 (d)]
Inspections will be conducted on business days only.
Reasonable hours to conduct an inspection are between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.
The PHA will notify the family in writing at least 7 days prior to the inspection.
If the family does not contact the PHA to reschedule the inspection or if the family misses 2 inspection appointments, the PHA will consider the family to have violated a Family Obligation and their assistance will be terminated in accordance with the termination procedures in the Plan.
Re-inspection: The family and owner are mailed a notice of the inspection appointment by mail. The appointment letter contains a warning of abatement (in the case of owner responsibility).
The family is also notified that it is a Family Obligation to allow the PHA to inspect the unit. If the family was responsible for a breach of HQS identified in Chapter 15, “Denial or Termination of Assistance,” they will be advised of their responsibility to correct.
Time Standards for Repairs
- Emergency items, which endanger the family’s health or safety, must be corrected by the owner within 24 hours of notification.
- For non-emergency items, repairs must be made within 30 days
- For major repairs, the Management may approve an extension beyond 30 days.
- If it is determined that, due to application of the Code of the City of Omaha, a Section 8 unit fails inspection due to the unit size needed for the family, the HAP contract will not automatically be terminated, but will not be renewed beyond the initial term At the end of the term, the family will be issued a move packet allowing them to obtain a dwelling of appropriate size.
The PHA will conduct an inspection using the Housing Quality Standards at least annually, prior to the anniversary month of the contract. Rent increase requests in the Voucher program will not be approved if the unit is in a failed condition.
Special or Complaint Inspections
If at any time the family or owner notifies the PHA that the unit does not meet Housing Quality Standards, the PHA will conduct an inspection.
The PHA may also conduct a special inspection based on information from third parties such as neighbors or public officials.
The PHA will inspect only the items, which 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.
Quality Control Inspections
Quality Control inspections will be performed by the Inspection Supervisor or Management on the HUD required sample size. The purpose of Quality Control inspections is to ascertain that each inspector is conducting accurate and complete inspections, and to ensure that there is consistency among inspectors in application of the HQS.
The inspection process will include each type of inspection (initial, annual, complaint) and units undergoing both initial and reinspections. Additionally, these samplings will include units that fail as well as pass.
Refer to Chapter 48 of the Minimum Dwelling Standards for the City of Omaha
Acceptibility Criteria and Exceptions to HQS
The PHA adheres to the acceptability criteria in the program regulations and HUD Inspection Booklet and local codes.
Emergency Repair Items
The following items are considered of an emergency nature and must be corrected by the owner or tenant (whoever is responsible) within 24 hours of notice by the Inspector:
- Lack of security for the unit (i.e. entrance door to unit)
- Waterlogged ceiling in imminent danger of falling
- Major plumbing leaks or flooding
- Natural gas leak or fumes
- Electrical problem, which could result in shock or fire
- No heat when outside temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and temperature inside unit is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Utilities not in service
- No running hot water
- Broken glass where someone could be injured
- Obstacle which prevents tenant entrance or exit
- Lack of functioning toilet
- Smoke alarms missing, or inoperable
In those cases where there is leaking gas or potential of fire or other threat to public safety, and the responsible party cannot be notified or it is impossible to make the repair, the PHA will notify proper authorities.
If the emergency repair item(s) are not corrected in the time period required by the PHA, and the owner is responsible, the housing assistance payment will be abated and the HAP contract will be terminated.
If the emergency repair item(s) are not corrected in the time period required by the PHA, and it is an HQS breach, which is a family obligation, the PHA will terminate the assistance to the family.
Consequences if Owner is Responsible
When it has been determined that a unit on the program fails to meet Housing Quality Standards, and the owner is responsible for completing the necessary repair(s) in the time period specified by the PHA, the assistance payment to the owner will be abated.
Abatement: A Notice of Abatement will be sent to the owner immediately, giving the owner 30 days from the day after the inspection to repair the item(s). If not repaired by that date, abatement will begin.
The PHA will inspect abated units within 7 days of the owner notification that the work has been completed.
If the owner makes repairs during the abatement period, payment will resume on the day the unit passes inspection.
No retroactive payments will be made to the owner for the period of time the rent was abated and the unit did not comply with HQS. The notice of abatement states that the tenant is not responsible for the PHA portion of rent that is abated.
Reduction of Payments /Extension for Owners
The PHA will grant an extension in lieu of abatement in the following cases:
- There is an unavoidable delay in completing repairs due to difficulties in obtaining parts or contracting for services.
- The repairs must be delayed due to climate conditions.
The extension will be made for a period of time. All extensions must be approved by a supervisor. At the PHA discretion, if the work is not completed, the PHA will begin the abatement.
Termination of Contract
If the owner is responsible for repairs, and fails to correct all the deficiencies cited prior to the end of the abatement period, the owner will be sent a HAP Contract Proposed Termination Notice. Prior to the effective date of the termination, the abatement will remain in effect.
If repairs are completed before the effective termination date, the PHA may rescind the termination if the tenant chooses to remain in the unit. Only one Housing Quality Standards inspections will be conducted after the termination notice is issued.
Determination of Responsibility
Certain HQS deficiencies are considered the responsibility of the family:
- Tenant-paid utilities not in service.
- Failure to provide or maintain family-supplied appliances
- 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 items, which could not be charged against the tenant security deposit under state law or court practice.
The owner is responsible for all other HQS violations.
The owner is responsible for vermin infestation even if caused by the family living habits. However, if such infestation is serious and repeated, it may be considered a lease violation and the owner may evict for serious or repeated violation of the lease. The PHA may terminate the family assistance on that basis.
The inspector will make a determination of owner or family responsibility during the inspection.
If the family is responsible but the owner carries out the repairs, the owner will be encouraged to bill the family for the cost of the repairs and the family file will be noted.
Consequences if Family is Responsible
If non-emergency violations of HQS are determined to be the responsibility of the family, the PHA will require the family make any repair(s) or corrections within 30 days. If the repair(s) or correction(s) are not made in this time period, the PHA will terminate assistance to the family. Management Staff must approve extensions in these cases. The owner rent will not be abated for items which are the family responsibility.
If the tenant is responsible and corrections are not made, the HAP Contract will terminate when assistance is terminated.