Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program regulations at 24 CFR Part 982 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 define "standard housing" and establish the minimum criteria for the health and safety of program participants. Current HQS regulations consist of 13 key aspects of housing quality, performance requirements, and acceptability criteria to meet each performance requirement. HQS includes requirements for all housing types, including single and multi-family dwelling units, as well as specific requirements for special housing types such as manufactured homes, congregate housing, single room occupancy, shared housing, and group residences.
Generally, HQS addresses the following areas:
The initial inspection process begins when EPCHA receives the completed forms from the Request for Tenancy Approval (RTA) packet. The Inspections Department will contact the owner at the number provided with the RTA to schedule the inspection. The Inspection Department will make two attempts to schedule the appointment. If the owner has not scheduled the inspection after two attempts by the Inspection Department, EPCHA will cancel the RTA and provide the voucher holder with new moving papers.
The voucher holder is usually not involved in the initial inspection process and only the owner or their agent may schedule the appointment. Most owners, however, remain in touch with the prospective tenant during the inspection process.
EPCHA will notify the owner of any deficiencies within five days of the inspection. Once the owner has addressed the deficiencies, the owner must contact EPCHA to schedule a re-inspection. If the owner does not schedule a re-inspection within 14 days of the previous failed inspection, EPCHA will terminate the process and issue new moving papers to the family.
HUD requires an inspection of all HCV Program participating units no later than 730 days after the previous full inspection. EPCHA will notify the participant and owner of the biennial HQS inspection appointment via postal mail or email prior to the inspection deadline.
If an adult member of the household cannot be present during the scheduled appointment, the family can reschedule the appointment one time for up to seven days after the original appointment. If an adult member of the household fails to attend the original appointment or a rescheduled appointment, EPCHA will automatically reschedule another appointment. If the participant fails to attend (or fails to make an adult representative available for) two scheduled inspections in a row without EPCHA approval, EPCHA will consider the family in violation of the family obligations and begin termination proceedings.
If a unit passes an inspection, no further action is necessary. If the unit fails an inspection, the owner and/or participant have 30 days to make the required repairs (24 hours for emergency items) and to pass re-inspection. Otherwise, EPCHA may terminate the Housing Assistance Payment contract or abate the HA payments until the unit passes inspection. If the failed items are the fault of the participating family, EPCHA will begin termination proceedings
To confirm HQS repairs, EPCHA conducts re-inspections. For repairs that are the owner’s responsibility, the owner must notify EPCHA of repairs that have been completed. If such repairs have not been made or if the re-inspection cannot be completed before the end of the correction period, for any reason, EPCHA may terminate the HAP contract or abate the HAP effective the first of the month following the expiration of the correction period (including any extension).
In the case of family-caused violations, EPCHA will begin termination proceedings. If EPCHA is unable to gain entry to the unit in order to conduct the scheduled re-inspection, EPCHA will consider the family to have violated its obligation to make the unit available for inspection and will begin termination proceedings.
At its sole discretion, EPCHA may allow the owner and tenant to certify that certain repairs have been completed. This self-certification process is only available for biennial re-inspections where the unit failed with five or fewer deficiencies that are the owner’s responsibility to correct. Eligible owners will receive instructions and self-certification paperwork along with information about the unit’s deficiencies. All self-certification forms must be submitted with supporting documentation showing that the necessary repairs have been completed.
Where inspection deficiencies are the owner’s responsibility, EPCHA will charge the owner a non‐refundable $75 fee for conducting a second re-inspection. The $75 fee must be paid to EPCHA prior to scheduling the second re-inspection. EPCHA requires that the owner or the owner’s authorized representative of the owner participate in such re-inspections
Serious deficiencies that threaten the health and safety of the participating family must be corrected within 24 hours. Upon discovery of an emergency deficiency during any type of inspection, the inspector will immediately notify the Owner and Participant of the situation either in person or by phone. EPCHA will then perform a re-inspection of these deficiencies on the next business day.
If emergency deficiencies remain unresolved after the re-inspection, abatement of the HAP may occur (for deficiencies that are the responsibility of the Owner) or termination procedures may commence against the Participant (for deficiencies that are the responsibility of the Participant). Abatement or termination processes will proceed until the property passes inspection.
Below is a list of some of the most commonly cited emergency deficiencies.
EPCHA may schedule a special inspection at the request of the owner/tenant or when violations of HCV Program and HQS regulations have been reported to Inspections Department.
EPCHA performs Quality Control Inspections periodically to assess the performance of the inspector that performed the prior initial or biennial inspection. Quality Control Inspections usually occur within 30 days of the prior inspection. Timetables for repairing violations cited during a Quality Control Inspection depend upon the specific type of deficiency.