HQS Inspections

Introduction

The goal of the housing choice voucher program is to provide “decent, safe and sanitary” housing at an affordable cost to low-income families. To accomplish this, program regulations set forth basic Housing Quality Standards (HQS) which all units must meet before assistance can be paid on behalf of a family and at least annually throughout the term of the assisted tenancy. HQS defines “standard housing” and establishes the minimum criteria necessary for the health and safety of program participants.

At least annually, it is the responsibility of the Pottsville Housing Authority to conduct inspections of units to determine compliance with HQS prior to the execution of the entire term of the assisted lease. New move-in inspections are performed by the Housing Authority Staff. Annual inspections of voucher holders’¬†homes are performed by contracted personnel, The Inspection Group. If the contracted inspectors find deficiencies in the unit, the tenant or landlord must contact the Pottsville Housing Authority to schedule a re-inspection.

Any deficiencies noted in an inspection must be corrected and re-inspected within 30 days, unless the deficiency is deemed a 24-hour emergency. If non-emergency violations will not be completed within the 30 day window, an additional 30 day extension can be granted if the request is submitted in writing to the PHA.

Failure to complete inspections in the allotted time can result in the withholding of assistance payments, and ultimately in the termination of the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) contract.

A sample of the HQS inspection report can be found on HUD.gov here.

Common HQS Violations

Exterior Structure

  1. Street Numbers must be displayed.
  2. Sidewalks and stairs must be kept in a proper state of repair, and be free from hazardous condition that could pose a threat to the public health, safety or welfare.
  3. Decks, Porches, and Balconies shall be maintained and structurally sound. Stairs and railings cannot be deteriorating or loose. Space between balusters on decks and stairs cannot be more than 4″. Good rule of thumb, the space between the balusters is about the width of your fist.
  4. Stairways need support railings with 4 or more steps.
  5. Windows and Doors must be in sound condition, good repair, and weather tight. Exterior Doors must be lockable. Windows that can be accessed on street level, or have access through a porch or fire escape must have a lock.
  6. Windows that are designed to open, must be operable. Windows must be able to stay open without the need of prop. No sticks or wedges can be inserted in a window to hold it open.

Interior Structure

  1. Living rooms and bedrooms must have at least one window. If the window is designed to be openable, the window must work.
  2. Every bathroom must have an openable window or an approved exhaust fan vented to the outside. There must be a shower or bathtub, a sink and a toilet that function properly.
  3. All electrical receptacles must be properly configured i.e.: no open grounds, reverse polarity, etc. Light switches and receptacles, junction boxes must have approved covers. Junction boxes and all electrical enclosures must have covers, and any unused knockouts properly plugged.
  4. Relief valves on water heaters & boilers must have extension tubes installed full 3/4″ rigid piping to within 6″ of the floor.
  5. No serious air pollution, such as exhaust fumes or sewer gas.
  6. No signs of rats or large numbers of mice or vermin.
  7. The use of unvented fossil fuel heating equipment is strictly prohibited.

Fire Safety Requirements

Smoke detectors shall be required and installed on every floor of a unit including the basement. The City of Pottsville Fire Code requires a smoke detector in every bedroom as well and the Pottsville Housing Authority will enforce city codes as well.

Smoke detectors placed on a wall shall not be any lower than 12 inches or less than 4 inches from the ceiling. Detectors must also be greater than 3 feet away from a kitchen stove and bathroom to prevent annoyance false-positive alarms.

Fire Extinguishers shall be visible, provided with ready access, and maintained in operating condition. Extinguishers shall be of an approved type.

Lead-Based Paint

Lead-based paint requirements apply to dwelling units built prior to 1978 that are occupied or can be occupied by families with children under six years of age, excluding zero bedroom dwellings.

All deteriorated paint surfaces more than 2 sq. ft. in any one interior room or space, or more than 10% of the total surface area of an interior type of component with a small surface area. (i.e., window sills, baseboards, and trim.) must be stabilized (corrected) in accordance with all safe work practice requirements and clearance required. If the deteriorated painted surface is less than 2 sq. ft. or less than 10% of the component, only stabilization is required. Clearance testing is not required. Stabilization means removal of deteriorated paint, repair of the substrate, and application of a new protective coating or paint. Lead-based paint owner certification is required following stabilization activities, except for de minimis level repairs.

For more details, please follow the link to HUD.gov about Lead-based Paint.

Sample Gallery of Common HQS Violations