Federal Housing Choice Voucher program rules require all units receiving rental assistance to meet Housing Quality Standards. To ensure compliance with this requirement, inspections in units are completed prior to a tenant moving in and on a biennial basis. Housing Quality Standard (HQS) inspection policy and procedure have significantly changed when conducting annual inspections. The below procedure does not apply to initial lease-up inspections as the Housing Authority still conducts re-inspections on these units to confirm the repairs have been made.
Biennial inspection appointment letters are mailed two weeks in advance to the tenant and landlord. If the inspection passes no further action is required by the owner or tenant. If the inspection fails the landlord and the tenant receive a copy of the repair sheet specifying the tenant repairs and the owner repairs. Landlords are able to certify repairs of non-emergency HQS failure items without requiring a re-inspection. Landlords/tenants will be asked to return a Certification for Completed Repairs Form verifying repairs were made to the Housing Authority of the County of Kern within 28 days of the initial inspection to avoid suspension (stopped payment) of the HAP. Forms must include a tenant and landlord signature. Subsidy for units that are still in failure status after the 28-day correction period will be abated after the 30th day of the initial inspection period, per HUD regulations. The Housing Authority will not lift the abatement until the return of the completed self-certification form or request of re-inspection that results in the unit passing. Note: No abatement payment will be reversed.
Self-certification is only acceptable for non-emergency items that are the landlord’s and/or tenant’s responsibility to fix. The self-certified units may be subject to quality assurance inspections to confirm the required repairs were made. HQS failures in vacant units that are inspected for a new tenant or emergency failures must be re-inspected at anytime with proper notice to tenant and landlord.
The Housing Authority understands that sometimes a tenant may make it difficult for a landlord to correct HQS failures. Provisions in a standard lease should allow the landlord the right to gain access to the rental unit to make repairs. If the landlord attempted to make repairs but the tenant does not allow access, landlords should refer to state and local regulations regarding entry to rental unit or seek legal advice. It is to the best interest of the landlord to document these attempts and inform the Housing Authority, however, landlords will still be responsible for ensuring repairs are done within the correction period. Examples of documents include: certified mailings to the tenant, proof of scheduled appointments with contracts and copies of any court papers filed.
If the landlord made at least two (2) documented attempts (during reasonable times and after reasonable notice) to gain entry to the unit, the landlord may submit these documents to the Inspections Unit. The Inspections Department will mail the tenant a letter reminding them of their obligations to provide access to the landlord to make repairs. When and if the repairs have been made and verified by Housing Authority, we will review the documents to determine if any retroactive HAP payment is due to the owner. If the tenant fails to do repairs and the unit does not pass inspection then a termination letter is mailed to the tenant for not complying with the program rules.