KCHA's Housing Quality Standards (HQS) inspections ensure that Section 8 units stay safe and livable.
KCHA conducts initial inspections to approve a unit for participation in the Housing Choice Voucher program. The unit must pass the HQS before any Housing Assistance Payments can be paid to the owner. KCHA suggests that the landlord and participant walk through the home and note any broken or damaged items so that they can be fixed before the inspection. If the unit does not pass, all failed items must be repaired, and a new inspection must be passed, before the tenant moves in.
KCHA has established annual and biennial inspection schedules that consider the type and condition of the unit to ensure compliance with HQS and related HUD and KCHA regulations and policies. KCHA may allow more time if the unit needs major repairs. You must begin to fix failed items considered life-threatening within 24 hours.
KCHA may withhold its payment to you if failed items are not fixed in the required time. The tenant is not responsible for this portion of the rent. We will resume payments after the repairs are completed and the unit passes inspection. KCHA will prorate payments from the date of the final inspection.
Although it is your responsibility to keep the unit up to the inspection standards, the tenant can be held responsible for damage they cause. You can require them to fix the damage or pay for its repair. To do so, you must give the tenant written notice, and send a copy of this notice to KCHA. Explain which items the tenant must fix and by what date. We may terminate the tenant's voucher if they do not make the repairs within the time designated.
Quality Control Inspections
HUD requires that a sample of units be re-inspected to ensure that HQS is being enforced correctly and uniformly by all inspectors and those landlords who have self-certified their units.
Units sometimes fail inspection because landlords and tenants do not know the requirements or have not checked the unit's condition. KCHA encourages you to look over the unit and make needed repairs before the inspection. Examine these areas:
- Entry doors: All doors must lock securely. Cover gaps that let in air with weather stripping. Door jambs and strike plates must work properly.
- Windows: Panes must not be broken or cracked. Windows designed to open must open and have a permanent lock attached. KCHA will not accept sticks or thumb screws as locks.
- Electricity: The unit cannot have electrical hazards. All outlets and switches must have intact cover plates secured to the wall. Wiring cannot be exposed. All light fixtures must work and mount to the wall or ceiling. Breaker boxes cannot have exposed wires. Fill all open spaces with knockouts or blank spacers.
- Oven and range: Clean the oven and range so that they are not a fire hazard. Burners must lay flat. All elements must work properly. Attach all knobs and dials to the appliances. Install filter screens in front of fans.
- Refrigerator: The rubber gasket around the door must be intact and fit snugly. Secure the kick plate at the base of the refrigerator.
- Heating and plumbing: The heating system must provide adequate heat. Clear heat sources of all items, such as furniture, bedding, and clothes. Oil, gas, and propane furnaces must be serviced at least once every two years. KCHA requires you to verify this service. Plumbing fixtures (e.g., sinks, toilets, showers) must not leak.
- Hot water heater: Heaters must have a pressure release valve. The discharge line must extend to within six inches of the floor. Discharge tubing must be galvanized steel, copper, or CPVC (not PVC). Wires cannot be exposed. Do not store flammable material near the tank.
- Flooring: Carpet must not be frayed or torn. Repair or replace vinyl, tile, or linoleum that poses a tripping hazard. Cover exposed carpet tacks. Repair loose thresholds. Floors must not have dry rot (often found in the bathroom around the bathtub and toilet).
- Smoke detectors: Each floor of the unit must have a smoke detector with a tester button. If the tenant has impaired hearing, you must mount a smoke alarm designed for the hearing-impaired in their bedroom.
- Ventilation: Bathrooms must have an operating fan or other ventilation source (e.g., a window).
- Decks, railings, and steps: Stairways with four or more steps require a handrail. The rail must be securely supported and run the length of the stairway. Decks, railings, and steps must not have dry rot or tripping hazards. Decks, steps, or porches more than 30 inches from the ground require railings.
- Paint: Units built before 1978 cannot have peeling or deteriorated paint inside or outside if lived in by a child under age six. Learn more about KCHA's lead-based paint regulations.
- Infestation: A qualified extermination firm must inspect the unit if KCHA cannot find the extent of an infestation. The firm must also treat the infestation, if necessary. Learn more about bedbugs from the EPA and Public Health – Seattle & King County.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms
A state law change requires the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in non-owner-occupied dwelling units. This includes apartments, condos, hotels, motels, and single-family residences. You must complete these installs by Jan. 1, 2013.
You must locate alarms outside each sleeping area, in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom, and on each level of the residence. Single-station carbon monoxide alarms need to comply with UL 2034, and you must install them according to code and the manufacturer's instruction. The law allows for combined carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.
Learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning and prevention.