If you want to rent out your property to someone with a Section 8 voucher, your house will undergo a health and safety examination. Even if you take all the necessary precautions, you might still fail the Section 8 rental inspection due to something you overlooked. However, there is no need to fret as this is a common occurrence among landlords. By following the advice provided below, you can discover what steps to take next and how to get ready for your future inspection to avoid a repeat of this situation.
The Housing Choice Voucher Program, also known as Section 8, is a rental assistance initiative offered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for individuals with limited incomes. This program aids eligible individuals and families by offering financial support to cover the remaining rent owed to their landlord each month. Some investors find this program preferable to regular rentals, as it ensures they receive a portion of the rent even if the tenant is facing difficulties in paying their bills.
What should be checked during the Section 8 Inspection?
Inspections occur when a new tenant moves in, and once a year thereafter. An inspection will also occur if the landlord or tenant makes a complaint about the safety or condition of the home. A Section 8 housing inspection is typically handled by a member of the public housing authority or an authorized inspector who is contracted out by them.
The inspection takes into account many areas of the house including a thorough check of each room for electrical hazards, the condition of the walls, ceiling, windows, and the detection of lead-based paint. They will also check out the foundation, chimney, roof, gutters, and other exterior features. The inspector can also interview the tenant to ensure they have no complaints about their living space. The inspection can take a couple of hours, and some things may be marked as inconclusive until they can get definitive information about the violation at a later date.
The HQS (Housing Quality Standards) checklist includes these areas with some examples provided:
✓ Are there at least two working outlets or one working outlet and one working light fixture? If additional outlets are present, do they work properly and, if not, are they permanently covered?
✓ Is there a working stove or range with oven top burners that work? If no stove or range with an oven are present, is there a microwave oven?
✓ Is the stove or range with an oven free from missing parts and/or hazards?
✓ Is the floor sound and free from hazardous defects? Is the room free of any tripping hazard present (loose carpet, raised floors, missing tiles, etc.)?
✓ Ventilation–Are there operable windows or a working vent system? If a skylight is present, is it able to be opened?
Tub and Shower
✓ Is there a working tub or shower with hot and cold running water in the unit?
✓ Is everything properly connected to a drainage system and gas trap?
✓ Is the tub or shower surface free of deterioration?
✓ Are the faucets free of leaks, and do they work properly?
All Other rooms used for Living (dining rooms, bedrooms)–
✓ Every bedroom must have at least one open able window for ventilation, if windows are designed to open.
All Secondary Rooms not used for Living (basements, utility rooms)
✓ The hot water tank’s pressure relief valve must have a discharge line extending down to 6″ from the floor.
Heating and Plumbing
✓ The flue pipe leading from the furnace and hot water tank must be sealed where they enter the chimney. Also, check to ensure that the flue pipes connecting to the furnace and hot water tank are installed correctly.
✓ The exterior wall structure and surface must not have any serious defects such as serious leaning, buckling, sagging, large holes or cracks, falling or missing pieces of masonry, or defects that may result in air and/or water infiltration or vermin infestation.
General Health and Safety
✓ Where there are four or more consecutive steps, handrails must be securely attached. This applies to both the interior and exterior of the unit.
✓ A working smoke and carbon monoxide detector with a live battery must be installed on every level of the unit, including in the basement and bedroom hallways. If any members of the family have hearing problems, install one for the hearing impaired.
What Happens If You Fail?
If you end up failing your Section 8 inspection, you will be given some time to make repairs before the property is inspected again. If the problem poses a threat to the tenant, you will need to remedy the situation much more quickly, typically within 24 hours.
The inspector will provide you with a list of problems that need to be completed before the reinspection takes place. In some cases, you will be able to request additional time to make repairs, but only in certain cases. If the repairs aren’t completed when the inspector returns, the subsidy you receive to cover the balance of the rent will be withheld, leaving you with only the amount the tenant is required to pay. If the problems persist, you will be in violation of your Section 8 agreement and your tenant will be free to move as they please.
Preparing For Next Time
Create a checklist for yourself to ensure the house is in good shape before the next inspection. Don’t rely on your tenant to tell you if there is a problem, check the house out for yourself during a scheduled walk-through. Use the checklist to look for all the things an inspector might see, making the improvements ahead of time. If you find something that could become an issue down the road, be proactive to eliminate future stress and cost.
It is important to take proactive steps to ensure the maintenance and upkeep of your rental property. By regularly inspecting the house and addressing any potential issues ahead of time, you can avoid violating your Section 8 agreement and provide a better living experience for your tenant.