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 you and the landlord 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 you move in.
Please note: Inspections that had been paused due to the pandemic will resume starting in Jan. 2022. These inspections will take place during each unit's regularly scheduled inspection period. In the meantime, KCHA encourages landlords and voucher-holders to conduct their own unit inspections.
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. The landlord must begin to fix failed items considered life-threatening within 24 hours.
KCHA may withhold its payment to your landlord if failed items are not fixed in the required time. You are 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 landlord’s responsibility to keep the unit up to the inspection standards, you can be held responsible for damage you cause. Your landlord can require you to fix the damage or pay for its repair. To do so, your landlord must give you written notice, and send a copy of this notice to KCHA. They must explain which items you must fix and by what date. We may terminate your voucher if you do not make the repairs within the time designated.
Quality Control Inspections
HUD requires that a sample of units be reinspected to ensure that HQS is being enforced correctly and uniformly by all inspectors and those landlords who have self-certified their units.
Reporting Needed Repairs
You must notify the landlord in writing of the repairs needed. You may notify the landlord verbally of a repair problem, but it’s important to follow up with a written letter. Once your landlord receives your written notice, state law defines when your landlord must begin repairs:
- Within 24 hours: No hot water, no heat, no electricity, or imminent hazard to life.
- Within 72 hours: Refrigerator, range, oven, or major plumbing fixture supplied by landlord.
- Within 10 days: All other cases. This includes landlord duties defined under RCW 59.18.060.
Note that the law requires the landlord to begin the repairs within the timeline, and to complete the repairs promptly. It does not mean the landlord must complete the repairs within the above stated timelines.
State law outlines landlord’s obligations to keep tenant unit safe and livable. Landlords must maintain their unit to comply with all local codes that govern housing quality and provide adequate heat, hot water, and locks. Read the full text of RCW 59.18.060 for a complete list of landlord duties. Also, some local cities and counties have additional requirements for landlords.
If you have contacted your landlord about a life safety issue, and they have not made the repair, fill out our Special Inspection Request form.
Units sometimes fail inspection because landlords and tenants do not know the requirements or have not checked the unit's condition. KCHA encourages landlords to look over the unit and make needed repairs before the inspection. Examine these areas:
- Entry doors: All doors must lock securely. Door jambs and strike plates must work properly. Make sure your landlord covers gaps that let in air with weather stripping.
- 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. Make sure your landlord fills 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. Make sure your landlord installs 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. Plumbing fixtures (e.g., sinks, toilets, showers) must not leak. Your landlord must have any oil, gas, or propane furnace serviced at least once every two years. KCHA requires your landlord to verify this service.
- 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. (Ask your landlord to check all of these items.) Also make sure not store flammable material near the tank.
- Flooring: Floors must not have dry rot (often found in the bathroom around the bathtub and toilet). Carpet must not be frayed or torn. Make sure your landlord repairs or replaces vinyl, tile, or linoleum that poses a tripping hazard. They should also cover exposed carpet tacks and repair loose thresholds.
- Smoke detectors: Each floor of the unit must have a smoke detector with a tester button. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, your landlord must mount a smoke alarm designed for the deaf and hard of hearing in your 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 you live with 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.
KCHA will stop making payments to the landlord if your home does not pass the inspection. Payments will not start again until the landlord fixes all items in need of repair.