Section 8 inspections question

8 Replies

I am helping my son to fix up his rental. He is considering section 8.  The house has a newer roof, newer windows, electrical and plumbing. New flooring,painting, countertops, all around refurbishing is being worked on now.  This place will be cute,clean, and beautiful.

I would like to know what some of the problems are that section 8 landlords have had to fix before being approved, as some seem a little strange and easy to miss [such as a drip pan under the stove.  I didn't even know that there was supposed to be a drip pan under the stove or even what they look like]  I read where someone failed because the cabinet boxes were not freshly painted.  

What are the things most commonly missed at inpection?

They have gotten me on windows that will not stay open (broken sash cord) and missing window screens. They have also found ungrounded receptacles and made us fix them. 

It is really hit and miss with the inspectors. Some are easy to get along with and have reasonable expectations while some feel if they don't find a problem they aren't doing their job. Hopefully you will get a good one!

Sounds like your place will do fine.  Fresh, Clean appearance goes a long way! Our inspectors have always been reasonable, sometimes even apologetic when they have to enforce something silly... (light burned out under the over-the-range microwave -she actually waited for me to drive to the store and get the replacement!).  

The unit needs to meet basic clean and safe standards.  If it is there, it should work.  Yes, electric outlets must be grounded, all utilities fully functional, faucets and drains function properly, carpets and linoleum not torn or frayed, weather stripping keeping the cold out, windows and doors close properly and lock securely. 

Be professional, friendly and polite.  Don't make jokes or complain about their clientele (some of them were/are sec-8 recipients). Don't whine about the things they list -remember they are bringing you a tenant with guaranteed payment at market rate. Build a good rapport with them and future inspections will be easier.  

...and always screen sec-8 as you would any other; references, last 2-3 landlords, etc...

My local PHA uses the following list to prep landlords for the general expectation of the inspection: 

Windows and Doors

  • The windows must not be damaged or missing
  • All ground floor windows must have locks
  • All doors leading outside must have locks and deadbolts

Flooring, Ceilings and Walls

  • The flooring, walls and ceilings must not have any serious defects such as serious bulging, sagging, large cracks, loose surface or other major damages
  • The flooring must not have any serious damages and cracks that will cause someone to trip and fall (peeling/lifting linoleum is often what flunks on this point)
  • The ceiling and roof must not leak. Stained ceilings are often a tell-tale sign of leakage
  • The interior walls of the property must not have chipped or peeling paint

Plumbing and Sanitation

  • The property must have a fixed water basin, flushing toilet and shower/bath tub
  • There must be no plumbing or water leaks
  • There has to be hot and cold running water in both the kitchen and bathroom
  • The bathroom must have either a window or exhaust fan
  • The water heater must have a discharge tube that drains to a floor pan, outside, sink, or other appropriate place. 

Lighting and Electrical Fixtures

  • There must be at least 1 working light each in the kitchen and bathroom
  • All electrical outlets must be working and come with cover plates
  • There must be a working heating system for the property

Structural and Fire Safety

  • There must be a working smoke detector for every rental unit and on every storey of the property (and no non-working ones!)
  • All stairs and railings must be secure
  • If you own a rental building - The walkways, porches, lifts and other common areas have to be properly maintained to avoid tenant injury.

I added a couple things there (I think my PHA copied the list off of a website), but the last point I would add is if there are things that don't work but you've left because they don't negatively impact a renter (such as an old wall heater, old smoke detectors, etc) pull  those out. Those often cause a unit to fail, but are obviously easy fixes. 

Good Luck!

Correction on the smoke detectors - one on each floor is no longer sufficient, they require one in each bedroom as well. And there must be one in the basement too.

Other things I failed in the past:

1)Water heater pressure relief valve must have a metal pipe going to about 3-4 inches from the floor (plastic not acceptable). Never really understood why plastic is not acceptable, I just know that the inspector made me replace it with copper.

2) Range must have anti-tip bracket. Mine did not have it, but I was able to secure it to the back wall with a couple of screws and a short chain - it passed.

3) There must be a fire extinguisher rated ABC in the kitchen. It must be full - even if it was never used, if the indicator has moved to the red, it will fail inspection.

4) No ground fault protection on power outlets next to sinks (kitchen, bath). It is OK to have one GFCI and have the other outlets connected as "load" so they trip it, as long as they are all on the same circuit (not likely).

5) No easily accessible tool to unlock a locked bedroom door from the outside. I had to have one on top of the door frame so a parent can reach it and unlock the door if a kid accidentally gets locked in. Those things kept disappearing, so I switched to doorknobs that can be unlocked from the outside with a coin or even a fingernail.

6) Plastic dryer vent is not acceptable. It has to be metal.

I have done extensive work with the Cincinnati Metro Housing Authority, which is the local company in my area that administers the Section 8 program. I have leased and managed over 50 section 8 apartments and houses.
The first thing I will tell you is that section 8 tenants get a bad reputation for some reason, but in my experience they are no worse than other low income tenants, and actually can be more responsible and take bettered gran care of your property because their worst fear is getting kicked off the program. My only real problem with section 8 is the paper work, be prepared to do tons of it!! Before you ever have an inspection you may need to register your holding entity with whatever your local section 8 office is, it should be pretty painless. You also need to market your unit to section 8 tenants and find one that is interested in your unit before you ever submit the paper work for scheduling an inspection.
All of the section 8 inspectors (who are sometimes 3rd party inspectors) do their inspection according to the HUD Guidelines. When preparing a unit or house for the section 8 inspection you must have all of the utilities turned on as well as have all appliances moved in and fully functioning. The inspection is short, maybe as quick as 5 minutes depending on the size of the unit but from my experience you often fail the first inspection. That isn't a big deal, it's usually From an ungrounded outlet or a missing carbon monoxide detector, and you can usually reschedule in a matter of days. If you want to avoid failing the first inspection here are a list of things to check: carbon monoxide detectors on every floor including basement, both photo electric and ionization smoke detectors present, all outlets are grounded or switched out for two-prong outlets, all windows and doors open & close properly and can lock, all stairways, porches, decks, and balconies have handrails that meet code, and all appliances, furnaces, ACs, stove ranges, and bathroom vent fans (if present) are clean and function properly. I hope this small novel I wrote here helps!

Originally posted by @Rumen Mladenov:

Correction on the smoke detectors - one on each floor is no longer sufficient, they require one in each bedroom as well. And there must be one in the basement too.

Other things I failed in the past:

1)Water heater pressure relief valve must have a metal pipe going to about 3-4 inches from the floor (plastic not acceptable). Never really understood why plastic is not acceptable, I just know that the inspector made me replace it with copper.

2) Range must have anti-tip bracket. Mine did not have it, but I was able to secure it to the back wall with a couple of screws and a short chain - it passed.

3) There must be a fire extinguisher rated ABC in the kitchen. It must be full - even if it was never used, if the indicator has moved to the red, it will fail inspection.

4) No ground fault protection on power outlets next to sinks (kitchen, bath). It is OK to have one GFCI and have the other outlets connected as "load" so they trip it, as long as they are all on the same circuit (not likely).

5) No easily accessible tool to unlock a locked bedroom door from the outside. I had to have one on top of the door frame so a parent can reach it and unlock the door if a kid accidentally gets locked in. Those things kept disappearing, so I switched to doorknobs that can be unlocked from the outside with a coin or even a fingernail.

6) Plastic dryer vent is not acceptable. It has to be metal.

 A couple quick notes: Your relief valve pipe need not be metal, it just can't be regular PVC. It must be the CPVC grade stuff. There need not be a fire extinguisher in the unit, but as with most things for Section 8, if its there, it has to work (ie not in the red), even if its not a required item. 

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