Boston Housing Authority

Policies > Section 8 Admin Plan Ch 9: Inspections

Section 8 Admin Plan

Chapter 9:Inspections

The BHA must inspect an Apartment leased to a Family prior to the initial term of the Lease, and at least annually during assisted occupancy, and at other times as needed, to determine if the Apartment meets the Housing Quality Standards (HQS)[1] and Chapter II of the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code[2].
 
A thorough Unit inspection is required for the BHA to determine compliance with HQS and determine the Rent Reasonableness. See also Chapter 8.
 
HQS regulations include requirements for all housing types including single and multi-Family dwelling units, as well as specific requirements for Special Housing Types such as Single Room Occupancy (“SRO”) and Shared Housing.  

9.1       Inspection Performance Requirements   

9.1.1    Generally 

The BHA will perform inspections in accordance with Chapter II of the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code and the Housing Quality Standards (“HQS”) prescribed by HUD. The inspector will also check for compliance regarding things including but not limited to: compliance with the Boston City Ordinance requiring smoke detectors, verify that the type of structure and utilities are accurately described on the RTA (if applicable), rate the quality of the Unit, measure the square footage of each room where necessary, and list all amenities and services as noted on the Housing Quality Addendum. HQS consists of the following thirteen performance requirements:
 
(a)        Sanitary facilities;
 
(b)        Food preparation and disposal;
 
(c)        Space and security;
 
(d)        Thermal environment;
 
(e)        Illumination and electricity;
 
(f)         Structure and Materials;
 
(g)        Interior air quality;
 
(h)        Water supply;
 
(i)         Lead-based paint;
 
(j)         Access;
 
(k)        Site and neighborhood;
 
(l)         Sanitary conditions; and
 
(m)      Smoke detectors. 

9.1.2    Quality Control 

The BHA will re-inspect a sample number of units to verify accuracy and consistency. The re-inspected sample will be selected from inspections that were completed in the previous three months and represent a cross section of neighborhoods and BHA inspectors.  The BHA re-inspects 30 units plus 1 Unit for every 200 inspections (or part of 200) over 2000 inspections. See also 24 C.F.R. § 985.2-3.  

9.2       Initial Inspections 

When a Family submits a RTA to the BHA an initial inspection is triggered. 
 
In cases of initial inspections, the Owner has an obligation to schedule the inspection once a RTA is submitted to the BHA.  The RTA will expire within sixty (60) days of submission if no action is taken by the Owner to schedule the inspection for the Apartment.
 
The Unit must pass the HQS inspection before the execution of the Assisted Lease and Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract and the initiation of payments.
 
The BHA must conduct the inspection within a reasonable time after the Family submits a RTA. If possible, the inspection should be completed within fifteen (15) days. 

9.2.1    Apartment cannot be inspected 

If for any reason the Apartment cannot be inspected (the Apartment is occupied or inaccessible), the Inspections Department will immediately notify the Leasing Officer, who will in turn send the Family an Agency Determination Form.  The BHA will not inspect occupied Apartments. 

9.2.2    Deny Request for Tenancy Approval 

The BHA may deny a request to inspect an Apartment of behalf of a Family because an Owner has a repeated history of violations of program rules and regulations including repeated violations of HQS or records indicate that the Owner did not make corrections after he was notified of deficiencies related to lead based paint. 

9.2.3    Length of Validity (Initial Inspection) 

If an Apartment passes initial inspection, the results are valid for a maximum of ninety (90) calendar days. The start date of the Assisted Lease must fall within this period. If the Lease term will start later than ninety (90) days after the Unit passed inspection, the Unit must be re-inspected and must pass inspection prior to the start of the HAP Contract. 

9.2.4    Time Provided for Repairs 

If the Unit does not comply with HQS requirements within the BHA specified time frame, the BHA may cancel the tenancy approval process and instruct the Family to search for another Apartment.
 
In cases of initial inspections, the BHA Inspection Department will re-inspect the Unit prior to the thirty (30) day period granted to make the repairs if request is made by Owner and provided that adequate staffing exists to perform such an inspection. 

9.2.5    Inspection Notice Requirements 

The BHA will notify the Family and Owner of the inspection results in writing.
 
The Owner must receive detailed information for all failed and inconclusive inspection items so that he or she is fully aware of the work necessary to pass the HQS inspection. 

9.2.6    Initial Inspection Failure 

If the Apartment fails inspection for any reason, the Leasing Officer will notify the Family and Owner by sending them an Agency Determination Form. If the Owner is unwilling to perform the requested repairs, computation of the term of the Voucher will resume (see section 6.2.2 for more information on tolling). The Voucher holder must then submit another "Request for Tenancy Approval" before his/her Voucher or any Voucher expires.
 
If the Owner indicates that (s)he is willing to make the requisite repairs, the BHA shall exercise discretion with respect to the period within which the Owner must make repairs in order for the Voucher holder to execute a Lease for the Apartment. 

9.3       Annual Inspections

 9.3.1    Scheduling Inspections (Annual) 

The BHA Inspections Department schedules all inspections. The Inspections Department will inform the Owner and the Participant of the date of the inspection in writing.
 
The Inspections Department will ask the Participant to contact the Inspections Department to make other arrangements if the Apartment cannot be inspected at the assigned time.
 
The Inspections Department will notify the Family of the appointment in writing and mail a copy of the inspection report to the Owner on the first business day after the inspection.  A copy of the inspection report will be provided to the Family.

9.3.2    Denial of Inspector's Access to Unit 

Unexcused failure by a Participant to grant access to BHA inspectors is grounds for termination of HCVP assistance.  Notices of inspections or notices sent because of failure to provide access will include the following information.
 
(a)        Excuse for denied access. If the Family denies the inspector access to the Unit after reasonable notice, the inspection Department will reschedule the inspection appointment if the tenant has a reasonable excuse for denying access to the Unit.
 
(b)        No Excuse for denied access. If the Family denies the inspector access to the Unit after reasonable notice and the tenant does not give a reasonable excuse, the BHA will propose termination of the tenant’s subsidy.
 
(c)        Denied access for a rescheduled appointment. If the Family denies the inspector access to the Unit after reasonable notice for a second/rescheduled appointment the BHA will propose termination of the Family’s subsidy. 

9.3.3    Length of Validity 

Once the Apartment has been inspected and approved, the approval shall be valid for a twelve (12) month period from the date of the annual inspection unless the inspection department conducts an interim re-inspection during the twelve (12) month period. 

9.4       Interim Inspections 

The BHA may order an interim inspection of any Apartment upon the request of the Family or Owner to determine that:
 
§         The Apartment is still in acceptable condition; or
 
§         The Owner or Family is meeting contractual and regulatory obligations to provide utilities and other services; or
 
§         If an Owner or Family is violating other program rules. 

9.5       Inspection Failure (Annual and Interim) 

9.5.1    Time Parameters for Corrections of Inspections Violations 

(a)        The BHA requires that a landlord correct any conditions deemed to endanger or impair health or safety within 24 hours.  Serious violations of this nature include but are not limited to: lack of heat, lack of water, lack of bathing facilities, lack of electricity, lack of gas (where applicable), exposed wiring or other hazardous defects in the electrical system, and dangerous structural defects.
 
(b)        All other violations must be corrected within thirty (30) days, unless the BHA approves an extension.  
 
(c)        The BHA will also comply with the time parameters set forth in the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code. (See 105 CMR § 410.830). 

9.5.2    Stopping and Resuming Payments after Interim or Annual Inspection 

If an Apartment fails inspection, the Inspection Department will notify the Owner of the violations in writing. The Inspection Department will schedule the re-inspection within thirty (30) days from the date the Inspections Department sent the notice of violations to the Owner.
 
(a)        Serious Violations and “Stop Payment”. If a serious violation exists, the Inspection Department will notify the Owner by telephone that the violations must be corrected within 24 hours. The Inspection Department may also issue the Owner a written letter detailing the serious violations. The Inspection Department will inform the Owner of a re-inspection date that is at least twenty-four (24) hours after the inspector identified the violation(s). If the Owner fails to correct the violations within the twenty four (24) hour period, the BHA will place the Unit on Stop Payment. The BHA reserves the right to terminate a HAP Contract for a Unit that is placed on Stop Payment.  A Stop Payment will remain in effect until the Unit receives inspection approval. The Owner cannot recover Subsidy payments for periods during which a Unit is on Stop Payment.
 
Examples of serious violations include but are not limited to the following: lack of heat, lack of water, lack of bathing facilities, lack of electricity, lack of gas (where applicable), exposed wiring or other hazardous defects in the electrical system, and dangerous structural defects. 

9.5.3    Re-inspection (Follow-up inspection) 

BHA staff will abide by the following procedures in processing re-inspections.
 
(a)        Incomplete Repairs. When the Owner is in the process of correcting cited violations resulting from the initial inspection; the inspector will reject the Unit and may grant the Owner additional time to complete the repairs. The BHA will then reschedule a second re-inspection date and notify the Owner in writing. The Inspection Department will send a copy of the second re-inspection notice to the Family.
 
If upon the second re-inspection the Owner has not completed and repaired all cited items set forth in the initial inspection the inspector will note the remaining cited items on the inspection report and recommend to the Director of the Inspection Department that the BHA suspend subsidy payments. If the Director approves the recommendation, the Owner will be informed in writing that the BHA has stopped subsidy payments on the Unit.
 
(b)        No Effort to Make Repairs. If the inspector determines that the Owner made no effort to repair the previously cited item(s), the inspector will note this on his report and recommend to the Director of the Inspection Department that the BHA suspend subsidy payments to the Owner. If the Director approves the recommendation to suspend the subsidy, the Inspection Department will notify the Owner of the “Stop Payment” by mailing a letter.
 
(c)        Cited Items Repaired, New Violations Discovered. If the Inspector determines that the Owner has repaired all cited items but discovers new violations during the re inspection, the inspector will reject the Unit. The inspector will note on the inspection report that the Owner repaired the previously cited items. The Inspector will also specify and separately list the new violations in a new inspection report.
 
The Inspection Department will then schedule a re-inspection date and notify the Owner in writing. The re-inspection will be within thirty (30) days of the notice to the Owner date. The BHA will send a copy of this letter to the tenant.
 
New violations in such a Unit, for purposes of scheduling re-inspection and imposing suspensions of subsidy payments, will be considered first time violations, unless the violations are deemed “serious” as examples in section 9.5.2(a) 

9.5.4    HAP Contract Termination Criteria 

The BHA may terminate the HAP Contract for the following causes:
 
(a)        The BHA has suspended the subsidy and found the Unit to be uninhabitable due to fire or other natural disaster;
 
(b)        The Unit has been without one or more of the following for a period of thirty (30) days: heat, hot water, electricity, or bathing facilities (this does not apply to conditions resulting from Tenant neglect);
 
(c)        If the Owner does not complete the necessary repairs within the specified time granted by the BHA, and offers no acceptable explanation for the delay, the BHA may terminate the HAP Contract for the Apartment. If the BHA terminates the HAP Contract due to Owner non-compliance, the BHA will issue the Family a new Voucher.
 
(d)        If after six (6) consecutive months of Stop Payment, the BHA determines that the Owner will not make repairs, or the Owner notifies the BHA that they will not make the necessary repairs to bring the Unit into compliance with the State Sanitary Code, the BHA will terminate the HAP Contract for the Unit and offer the Family a new Voucher.
 
(e)        The BHA shall terminate the HAP Contract with an Owner who, after notification that a child under the age of six (6) residing in the Unit has an elevated intervention blood level of lead (EIBL) in his/her blood, fails to have the Unit (including the exterior and common areas) tested within fourteen (14) days by a licensed lead-based paint inspection company using an X-ray fluorescence analyzer (XRF machine). The BHA will also terminate the HAP Contract with an Owner of a Unit where a child under six (6) lives, after notification that the Unit common areas, or exterior of the building contains lead based paint, fails to have the Unit, common areas and/or exterior de-leaded within thirty (30) days.
 
(f)        The BHA shall terminate the HAP Contract with an owner who, after notification that a child under the age of six is now residing in the unit of a building constructed prior to 1978,  fails to provide a Lead Certificate of Compliance or Letter of Interim Control by the deadline date spelled out in the notification letter. 

9.5.5    Notice of Subsidy Termination 

The BHA will notify the Owner in writing of the HAP Contract termination. The BHA will give the Participant a new Voucher if the BHA terminated the HAP Contract due to Owner non-compliance. 

9.5.6    HQS Violations

 See Chapter 13 for information on HQS violations by the Participant Family. 

9.6       Lead Paint Policy 

The BHA Leased Housing Division has established the following policies and procedures to comply with federal regulations pertaining to the identification and treatment of lead-based paint hazards in Section 8 Units. The following policy is in two sections: Part I - New and Relocating Tenants, and Part II- Annual and Interim Recertification.
 
As used in this document, the term "EIBL" shall mean Elevated Intervention Blood Lead Level, defined as a condition in which the amount of lead detected in a child's system is at or exceeds 20 micrograms per deciliter of whole blood. 

9.6.1    Part I – New and Relocating Tenants 

(a)        Child Under Six -- No EIBL. If a child under the age of six without an EIBL will live in the Unit, the BHA will require the Owner to: 

(1)        Provide proof that the building was constructed after 1978. Gut rehabilitation does not qualify as new construction, or:         
 
(2)        Provide the BHA with a certificate indicating compliance with the Massachusetts lead-based paint law. The certificate must be issued by a registered lead paint inspection company and must indicate that the unit's interior, common areas, and exterior are in compliance with the Massachusetts lead paint law.
           
Certificates dated prior to 7/1/88 will be accepted unless previously intact paint in the interior, common areas, or exterior of the Unit is now cracking, scaling, chipping, peeling, or loose; or the building has undergone renovation since a certificate was issued.
 
(3)        The BHA Inspection Department will reject any Unit that has any cracking, scaling, chipping, peeling, or loose paint on the apartment interior, common areas, or exterior of the building.            

Note on HAP effective dates in buildings constructed before 1978:
 
The BHA will not execute a HAP Contract for a Unit in a building constructed before 1978 without first receiving a Certificate of Compliance. The HAP Contract in such a Unit may then be made effective no earlier than the later of these two dates: the inspection approval date; or the date indicated on the Certificate of Compliance.
 
Note on HAP effective dates in buildings constructed after 1978:
 
HAP Contracts in Units constructed after 1978 shall be made effective no earlier than the date of inspection approval. 

(b)        Child Under Six - EIBL History. If a child under six who has or has ever had an EIBL will live in the Unit, the BHA will require the Owner to: 

(1)        Provide proof that the building was constructed after 1978. Gut rehabilitation does not qualify as new construction; or
 
(2)        Provide the BHA with a certificate indicating compliance with the Massachusetts lead-based paint law. The certificate must be issued by a registered lead paint inspection company using an X-ray Fluorescence Analyzer (XRF) and must indicate that the unit's interior, common areas, and exterior are in compliance with the Massachusetts lead paint law. HUD will accept only XRF results. Certificates dated prior to 7/1/95 will not be accepted.
 
            Regardless of the receipt of a certificate of compliance, the BHA Inspection Department will reject any Unit for leasing that has any cracking, scaling, chipping, peeling, or loose paint on the interior, common areas, or exterior of the building.  Once the offending surfaces have been brought back into compliance, the owner must provide the BHA Inspection Department an addendum to the original lead certificate of compliance.  The owner may also be required to submit clearance test results (aka surface wipe test) from a Massachusetts licensed laboratory.
           
Note on HAP Contract effective dates in buildings constructed before 1978:
 
The BHA will not execute a HAP Contract for a Unit in a building constructed before 1978 without first receiving a certificate of compliance or Letter of Interim Control. The HAP Contract in such a Unit may then be made effective no earlier than the later of these two dates: the inspection approval date; or the date indicated on the certificate of compliance.
 
Note on HAP Contract effective dates in buildings constructed after 1978:

HAP Contracts in Units constructed after 1978 shall be made effective no earlier than the date of inspection approval.           

(c)        No Child Under Six. There are no lead paint requirements for Units where no child under six will reside. 

9.6.2    Part II - Annual and Interim Recertification           

(a)        Child Under Six - EIBL History. When a Leased Housing staff member becomes aware during the annual or Interim Recertification process that a child under six living in a Unit has or has ever had an EIBL, the staff member shall ask the Head of Household for medical documentation of the lead poisoning. Once medical documentation has been received,the Leasing Ofiicer shall  forward said documentation to the Director of Inspections. The Director of Inspections shall send a letter to the Apartment Owner informing him/her that (s)he must: 

(1)        Provide proof that the building was constructed after 1978. Gut rehabilitation does not qualify as new construction; or
 
(2)        Have the Apartment, its common areas, and exterior, tested in accordance with Massachusetts law by a registered lead paint inspection company using an XRF analyzer. The letter from the Director of Inspections shall also inform the Owner that he must send a copy of the XRF test results to the BHA within fourteen (14) days or the BHA will terminate the unit's HAP Contract. If the XRF test results indicate unacceptable lead levels in the Unit, its common areas, or exterior, the Director of Inspections will notify the Owner in writing that he must de-lead the Unit and affected areas within 30 days and provide the BHA with a certificate from a registered lead paint testing company verifying that abatement has been completed.
 
(3)        Failure to do so will result in the BHA's termination of the HAP. 

Child Under Six – No EIBL History. When a Leased Housing staff member becomes aware during the annual or Interim Recertification process that there is a child under six living in a Unit, the staff member shall so inform the Director of Inspections. The Director of Inspections shall send a letter to the Apartment Owner informing him/her that (s)he must: 

(1)        Provide proof that the building was constructed after 1978. Gut rehabilitation does not qualify as new construction; or
 
(2)        Have the Apartment, its common areas, and exterior, tested in accordance with Massachusetts law by a registered lead paint inspection company using an XRF analyzer. The letter from the Director of Inspections shall also inform the Owner that he must send a copy of the XRF test results to the BHA within fourteen (14) days or the BHA will terminate the unit's HAP Contract. If the XRF test results indicate unacceptable lead levels in the Unit, its common areas, or exterior, the Director of Inspections will notify the Owner in writing that he must de-lead the Unit and affected areas within 30 days and provide the BHA with a certificate from a registered lead paint testing company verifying that abatement has been completed.
 
(3)        Failure to do so will result in the BHA's termination of the HAP. 

(b)        Rejection regardless of Certificate. Regardless of the receipt of a certificate of compliance, the BHA Inspection Department will reject any Unit for leasing that has any cracking, scaling, chipping, peeling, or loose paint on the interior, common areas, or exterior of the building.
 
(c)        No child under six. There are no lead paint requirements for units where no child under six (6) resides.

 


[1] See 24 C.F.R. section 982.404

[2] See 105 CMR 410.000