As a landlord in the Houston area, you might want to consider owning low-income property, or a Section 8 rental. As such, you will need to know what to do if you fail your Section 8 rental inspection. In our latest post, we will explain the process of repairing the property and having it reinspected.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides a rental assistance program for low-income individuals called the Housing Choice Voucher Program, more commonly known as Section 8. The program helps qualified individuals and families with their rent, by providing a subsidy to cover the balance of the amount owed to the landlord each month. Investors sometimes prefer this to a traditional rental as they can be sure to receive at least a portion of the rent if their tenant is having trouble paying the bills.
In order to rent your property out to a person with a Section 8 voucher, your home will go through the process of a health and safety inspection. No matter how much you prepare, you might end up failing your Section 8 rental inspection for something you may not have even noticed. But don’t worry, it happens to landlords all the time. Using the tips below, you can learn what to do next, as well as how to prepare for your next inspection so this doesn’t happen again.
What The Inspection Includes
Inspections occur when a new tenant moves in, and once a year thereafter. An inspection will also occur if the landlord or tenant makes a complaint about the safety or condition of the home. A Section 8 housing inspection is typically handled by a member of the public housing authority or an authorized inspector who is contracted out by them. The inspection takes into account many areas of the house including a thorough check of each room for electrical hazards, the condition of the walls, ceiling, and windows, the presence of working smoke detectors, and the detection of lead-based paint. They will also check out the foundation, chimney, roof, gutters, and other exterior features. They will check the heating and air conditioning system and many general health and safety items such as pests, garbage, and other hazards. The inspector can also interview the tenant to ensure they have no complaints about their living space. The inspection can take a couple of hours, and some things may be marked as inconclusive until they can get definitive information about the violation at a later date.
There are a number of violations a Houston investor can be dinged for. Stairs without handrails, exterior leading doors without deadbolts, chipped paint with kids living in the house, roaches or pests living in the home, smoke detectors not working, lack of window screens, window locks, or bathroom fans, and many other things you may not have considered. It can take only one minor infraction to fail your Section 8 inspection. While some problems may seem silly, they should always be taken seriously. As a landlord with Section 8 tenants or not, you should always want to provide, clean, safe, and comfortable housing for your tenants. Seeing issues during an inspection may give you the gentle nudge, letting you know your property isn’t in as good of condition as you may have previously thought. Plus, making some of these small repairs now, will likely save you money down the road.
What Happens If You Fail?
If you end up failing your Section 8 inspection, you will be given some time to make repairs before the property is inspected again. If the problem poses a threat to the tenant, you will need to remedy the situation much more quickly, typically within 24 hours. The inspector will provide you with a list of problems that need to be completed before the reinspection takes place. In some cases, you will be able to request additional time to make repairs, but only in certain cases. If the repairs aren’t completed when the inspector returns, the subsidy you receive to cover the balance of the rent will be withheld, leaving you with only the amount the tenant is required to pay. If the problems persist, you will be in violation of your Section 8 agreement and your tenant will be free to move as they please.
Preparing For Next Time
Create a checklist for yourself to ensure the house is in good shape before the next inspection. Don’t rely on your tenant to tell you if there is a problem, check the house out for yourself during a scheduled walk-through. Use the checklist to look for all the things an inspector might see, making all of the improvements ahead of time. If you find something that could become an issue down the road, be proactive to eliminate future stress and cost.