What Is a Section 8 Housing Inspection?

Definition

A section 8 inspection is a type of home inspection completed by a local Public Housing Authority to ensure your property meets the housing quality standards set by HUD.

People inspecting apartment
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How Section 8 Inspections Work

If you are attempting to rent your property to a tenant with a housing choice voucher or another form of Section 8, your property will have to undergo a separate Section 8 inspection in addition to the inspections done by your city, town, or county.

The goal of these inspections is to make sure your property is "decent, safe, and sanitary" for the tenants who will be living there. The inspections are conducted every one to three years, depending on the type of housing. When using housing choice vouchers, units are also inspected before you move in.

Who Conducts Section 8 Inspections?

These inspections will be conducted by one of the following:

  • A staff member of the Public Housing Authority
  • An outside inspector the PHA has hired

When conducting the inspection, the inspector will be assessing the unit to determine if it complies with HUD’s Housing Quality Standards. These standards are set forth to make sure the property is safe for the Section 8 tenant. The Housing Quality Standards include 13 areas that the inspector must examine. These areas are known as performance requirements.

They include:

  • Sanitary facilities
  • Food preparation and refuse disposal
  • Space and security
  • Thermal environment
  • Illumination and electricity
  • Structure and materials
  • Interior air quality
  • Water supply
  • Lead-based paint
  • Access
  • Site and neighborhood
  • Sanitary conditions
  • Smoke detectors

Note

HUD includes criteria for each requirement, but the inspectors must also use their own judgment to determine if the unit complies with all requirements or if there are hazards present.

When Do Section 8 Inspections Happen?

The Public Housing Authority will usually conduct housing inspections at the following times:

  • Before a tenant with a housing choice voucher moves into a unit, to make sure that the unit complies with HUD's Housing Quality Standards
  • Once a year after a tenant with a housing choice voucher has moved into a unit
  • When a tenant complains about a health or safety condition at the property
  • When a landlord complains about a health or safety condition at the property
  • At any other time they deem necessary

The PHA will usually send you a notice in advance of the inspection, which states the date and time when the inspection will take place.

What Happens When the Inspection Is Done?

When determining if an item meets HUD’s health and safety standards, the inspector has three options. They can:

  • Pass it: No further action needs to be taken on this item.
  • Fail it: This item needs to be remedied to comply with HUD’s Housing Quality Standards.
  • Mark it as inconclusive: An inspector can mark an item as inconclusive. It can be done for a couple of reasons, but it means that the inspector needs more information from the property owner. Once this information is given, the inspector will then pass or fail this item. For example, an inspector could mark the safety of a boiler as inconclusive because he or she could not access the boiler because it was in a locked room. Once the inspector is granted access to this room, he or she can determine if it meets health and safety requirements.

What Happens If You Fail

Even if you only fail one item on the Section 8 inspection checklist, you will fail the inspection. After the inspection, you will be given a list of all items that have failed and why. You will be given the opportunity to remedy the violations by a specific date.

Once you have fixed the item or items, you can then contact the inspector, who will come to re-inspect the unit. He or she will determine if you have fixed the item appropriately by passing you, fail the item again if problems persist, or mark it as inconclusive if further action is needed.

Note

If you fail to remedy violations, your housing contract with the PHA will be violated, and the tenant will be given the opportunity to move.

Why Section 8 Inspections Are Important

Section 8 housing inspections set a common standard for the quality of homes available to low-income families.

Ensuring your property meets the requirements keeps you eligible to participate in the program, lets you receive timely subsidized rent payments from the government, and makes it easier to secure a new tenant when the previous one moves on.

Key Takeaways

  • A Section 8 housing inspection is performed to make sure your property meets quality standards set by HUD.
  • During a Section 8 housing inspection, an inspector will assess the quality of the unit in 13 major areas of health, safety, and habitability.
  • If you are a property owner who wants to rent out a home, passing regular Section 8 housing inspections will allow you to participate in the housing choice program, receive direct subsidized payments, and keep your unit occupied.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long after a Section 8 inspection can someone move in?

It can take a couple of weeks after an inspection before a tenant can move in. First, any necessary repairs must be completed. The time this will take can vary. Then, both you and your prospective tenant must sign the paperwork, including the lease and a Housing Assistance Payments Contract (HAPC). The HAPC and lease must be mailed to the public housing authority. After you conduct a background check, receive a security deposit and signed lease, and receive approval from the housing authority, the tenant can move in according to the date on the lease.

What happens after you pass a Section 8 inspection?

Once your unit passes its Section 8 inspection and is approved, you can move forward with renting your unit. Make sure you sign the contract with the housing authority specifying the rent to be paid, including what portion the housing authority will pay.

How long does a Section 8 inspection take?

Section 8 inspections can take as little as 15 minutes to complete, with the whole process completed in days to weeks. You can speed things along by making sure your unit is clean, safe, and well-maintained, and by completing and returning all necessary paperwork in a timely fashion.

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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Inspection Information for Residents."

  2. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Housing Quality Standards (HQS) – Frequently Asked Questions."

  3. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "HUD Housing Inspection Manual for Section 8 Housing: Chapter 10: Housing Quality Standards," Page 27.

  4. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "HUD Housing Inspection Manual for Section 8 Housing: Chapter 10: Housing Quality Standards," Page 29.

  5. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Interested in Becoming a Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Landlord?"

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