Usually known by its nickname, Section 8, this low income housing assistance program is actually Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 and is officially known as the Housing Choice Voucher Program.
It’s a rental assistance program managed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that provides the difference between a tenant’s contribution toward rent and the full rental price. Owners contract with the government to provide a certain number of units dedicated to low income housing. Section 8 inspections are a key part of the program.
The benefits of participating in the Section 8 program are numerous, but the best part is that the government directly subsidizes the landlord for its portion of the rent, on time and in full. Landlords gain a certain buffer from any hardships the tenant may face, because the program adjusts to the tenant’s financial circumstances. There are always plenty of potential tenants on the waiting list, which means minimal vacancy time and lower marketing costs.
Part of the requirements for owners to qualify to participate in the program is an inspection by a housing official. The properties must meet certain standards in order to qualify and stay eligible. Section 8 inspections allow officials to confirm that landlords are complying with the standards of the program in providing rental units for low income citizens. Many landlords get nervous about the inspection process, but there’s no need to worry.
Here are some FAQs that landlords who are thinking about participating in the program may have about Section 8 inspections:
Section 8 inspections were implemented to ensure that all rental units meet minimum standards of safety and decency. Any unit being considered for participation in the program must be checked out to make sure there are no health issues. It’s also for the property owner’s benefit to assess any areas that may need maintenance or repair.
Initial Section 8 inspections are the ones that takes place before the contract is executed. After that, the unit will be inspected annually. There may be an additional inspection if there is an audit or if there are complaints about the unit.
Property owners should check out the rental unit prior to the inspection and take care of any maintenance issues beforehand. Broken or worn out features should be repaired or replaced before the inspection. While cosmetic fixes should be taken care of, inspectors are specifically looking for violations that affect health and safety of tenants.
If the inspector finds a violation in the unit, the property owner has time to make the fix before a re-inspection date. If the repairs aren’t finished by the next inspection date, the subsidy payments for rent will be suspended. If the violation is significant, such as something that can affect the health and safety of the tenant, the inspector will issue a 24-hour deadline for the repair or replacement.
Extensions for fixing any non-serious violations can be granted on a case-by-case basis and depend on the nature of the problem, why the extension is needed, the owner’s current efforts to make the fix and any other outstanding circumstances. Again, if the violation is serious, no extensions will be granted.
The inspectors have a checklist of items that they are looking for when they look at a rental unit. No matter the number and severity of any violations found, owners are responsible for making repairs and doing that in a timely manner.
The most common violations for housing inspections are:
While Section 8 inspections may cause some property owners to get nervous, the bottom line is that if you are doing a good job in keeping your property up to date and your tenant happy, the inspector won’t find much wrong. If your property is run down and you aren’t doing a good job in keeping it up, the inspector may find violations that you need to fix right away.
Just focus on being a good landlord and manage your property as if you were having an inspection just around the corner, That way, you’ll be ready for a real inspection and pass with flying colors.
Do you have experience with Section 8 inspections on your rental property? How did you do? Please share this article and let us know in the comments below.