HOUSING QUALITY STANDARDS (HQS)
The Housing Quality Standards are a general set of guidelines for Housing Authority Inspectors (and other agency inspectors ).
NOTE: In many communities, you may be inspected by:
- Section 8 / Housing Authority Inspector
- local fire department (Fire/Carbon/Safety
- your local building
- your local health department
- your state building or hotel or boarding home departments – depending on size of structure(s) or type of license
PURPOSE OF STANDARDS
The purpose of the standards is so that the property owner / management company have a clear understanding of the basic habitability requirements for units you are receiving subsidized funding for.
There’s a good chance you’re a great landlord and take the same pride you take in your own home.
There’s also a good chance that you don’t really care, you don’t live there and as long as you have a tenant and getting a check – you don’t.
Therefore, the following are a set of general guidelines to help you pass your inspection.
COMMON UNIT INSPECTION POINTS (Include, but not limited to)
Must lock securely. Check the weather-stripping.
If there are gaps that let air in, weather-stripping must be applied.
Check the doorjamb and strike plate for defects.
Be sure to change the lock(s) between tenants.
WINDOWS : Those designed to open must open and have a permanent lock attached (sticks and thumbscrews are not accepted as locking devices).
The windowpanes must not be broken or cracked.
Screens are required on all opening windows.
The windows should not be obstructed.
TYPICALLY, BASEMENT ROOMS used as BEDROOMS are illegal, subject to local building. You must have a window to escape from.
WINDOWS ARE A MEANS OF ESCAPE IN A FIRE and A MEANS FOR THE FIRE DEPARTMENT TO ENTER.
ELECTRICAL HAZARDS :
Units must be free of electrical hazards.
All outlets and switches must have cover plates, intact and secured to the wall.
There can be no exposed wiring.
All light fixtures must work and be properly mounted to the wall or ceiling.
Breaker boxes must have all open spaces filled with knockouts or blank spacers and must have no exposed wires.
OVEN / RANGE :
The range and oven should be clean so they do not constitute a fire hazard.
Burners must lay flat and all elements must be working properly.
All knobs and dials should be on the appliance.
Filter screens should be installed in front of fans and clean.
The rubber gasket around the door should be intact and fit snugly.
Loose and/or cracked gaskets must be replaced.
The kickplate at the bottom of the refrigerator must be secured properly.
HEATING and PLUMBING :
The heating system must be in working order and provide adequate heat.
All heat sources should be clear of furniture, bedding, clothing and other items.
Oil, gas and propane furnaces must be safe and professionally serviced at least once every two years. Verification of service must be provided.
Plumbing fixtures (sinks, toilets, showers, etc.) should be free of leaks and functioning / caulked and free from mold.
HOT WATER HEATERS :
Must have a pressure relief valve and discharge line that extends to within 6 inches of the floor. Discharge tubing must be of the appropriate type of material – either galvanized steel, copper or CPVC piping (not PVC).
There should be no exposed wires.
Flammable material should not be stored near the hot-water tank.
Carpets that are frayed or torn, or vinyl, tile or linoleum that would be a tripping hazard must be replaced or repaired.
Exposed carpet tacks or thresholds that are loose must be repaired.
Please check and repair floors that have dry rot (commonly found in the bathroom, around the bathtub and toilet).
SMOKE DETECTORS :
A smoke detector, with a tester button, must be on each floor of the unit.
If a tenant has impaired hearing, a smoke alarm designed for the hearing-impaired must be mounted in the bedroom occupied by that individual.
RentLaw.com is going to add to that in many instances, you will be required to have a CARBON Monoxide Detector and an APPROVED Fire Extinguisher.
A general rule: SAFETY FIRST. See our guide to Fire Safety for more details.
Inoperable bathroom fans or no ventilation (i.e. window) would result in a fail rating.
DECKS, RAILINGS, STEPS :
Stairways with four or more steps must have a handrail.
The handrail must run the length of the stairway and be securely supported.
Decks, rails and steps must be free of dry rot and tripping hazards.
Railings are required for decks, porches or steps that are more than 30 inches from the ground.
HUD requires that a home built prior to 1978 have no deteriorated or peeling paint inside or out if children under the age of six will occupy it.
Let’s add in some other pointers:
MOLD – See our guide to Mold . Be sure to clean up mold and identify the cause of the mold. Check Ventilation and all plumbing and heating.
EXTERIOR: Free from Garbage. Paint and general condition of house and roof.
BE SMART. MAKE THOSE REPAIRS AS YOU GO. FIX IT ONCE. SAVE WHERE YOU CAN, BUT A FEW EXTRA CENTS SPENT TODAY MAY SAVE YOU A BIGGER EXPENSE LATER.