Section 8 Housing Inspectors Look for These 13 Standards in Rentals

Does Your Rental Property Measure Up?

Realtor discussing section 8 bedroom requirements
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For a rental unit to be approved for Section 8 Housing, it must meet certain housing quality standards. Before a tenant can move into an apartment, an inspection will be performed by the local Public Housing Authority. Here are 13 standards for which they inspect. 

Section 8 has established a list of 13 performance requirements which make up their Housing Quality Standards. These requirements are guidelines for Section 8 inspectors to use to determine if a housing unit is fit to maintain a certain quality of life. These requirements include:

  1. Sanitary Facilities
  2. Food Preparation and Refuse Disposal
  3. Space and Security
  4. Thermal Environment
  5. Illumination and Electricity
  6. Structure and Materials
  7. Interior Air Quality
  8. Water Supply
  9. Lead-Based Paint
  10. Access
  11. Site and Neighborhood
  12. Sanitary Conditions
  13. Smoke Detectors

Open to Interpretation

While there are 13 basic categories that are important to Section 8 inspectors, the inspectors must use their own judgment and discretion to interpret the rules in certain cases. The Housing Quality Standards include acceptability standards which can help an inspector determine if an item meets HUD’s standards. 

The following are some sample criteria for each performance requirement to give you an idea of what the inspector is looking for in a prospective Section 8 housing unit. Many of the requirements are the same basic health and safety standards any state, county or town building department would have for habitability. For the complete list of requirements and standards, please refer to, Chapter 10: Housing Quality Standards, of HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook.

1. Sanitary Facilities

  • The bathroom must be located in a private room within the residence.
  • The bathroom must contain a flushing toilet, a shower or tub and a sink.
  • The shower or tub and the sink must have functioning hot and cold water.

2. Food Preparation and Refuse Disposal

  • The unit must have an oven and a stove or a range. A microwave oven can be substituted.
  • The unit must have a kitchen sink with hot and cold water and a proper sink trap.

3. Space and Security

  • The unit must have a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom.
  • Any doors or windows that are accessible from the outside must be able to be locked.

4. Thermal Environment

  • The heating system must safely provide heat to each room. The local PHA will determine what temperature is considered adequate during each month of the year.
  • The cooling system must safely cool each room.

5. Illumination and Electricity

  • The living room and each bedroom must have at least one window.
  • The kitchen must have at least one working outlet.
  • The living room and each bedroom must each have at least two working outlets.

6. Structure and Materials

  • All ceilings, walls, and floors must not show any signs of bulging or buckling and must not contain large holes.
  • The roof must be structurally sound.
  • Handrails are required when there are four or more steps.

7. Interior Air Quality

  • Bathrooms must have a window that can be opened or must have other adequate ventilation.
  • The unit must be free from dangerous pollutants, such as carbon monoxide.

8. Water Supply

  • The water supply must be free from contamination.
  • Plumbing pipes and fixtures must be free from leaks.

9. Lead-Based Paint

  • Units constructed before 1978 must be free from lead-based paint hazards.
  • There must be no chipping, cracking or peeling paint or other hazards.

10. Access

  • There must be two ways to exit the unit. A fire escape is considered an alternate means of exit.
  • The fire escape or other emergency exit cannot be blocked.

11. Site and Neighborhood

  • There must not be excessive noise or trash accumulation in the neighborhood.
  • There must not be an abnormal amount of air pollution.

12. Sanitary Conditions

13. Smoke Detectors

  • There must be at least one working smoke detector on each level of the unit, including the basement. Local codes may have stricter requirements, such as placing a smoke detector outside of each bedroom.
  • All smoke detectors must be operational.