Section 8 House Qualifications

Landlords who wish to make their units available to Section 8 voucher holders must have the units inspected by their local public housing authorities as part of the approval process. The public housing authority inspectors use a checklist created by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to ensure that Section 8 homes are safe and decent. Once a unit passes the inspection, the landlord is free to sign a lease with a voucher holder and sign the contract with the housing authority that officially makes him a Section 8 landlord.

Doors, Doorways and Windows

The unit must have a door leading outside, whether “outside” means to the outdoors or to an exterior hallway leading to an exit. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that these doors lock and have deadbolts. Windows must be undamaged and functional. Windows on the ground floor or below ground level must have permanently installed locks. Windows that open to public areas must also have window guards.

Interior and Exterior Structure

The walls, floors and ceilings should all be in good repair. Such signs of serious problems as large cracks, bulges or chipped and peeling paint are cause for the home to fail the inspection. The ceiling must be free of leaks and obvious signs of prior leaking, like stains. Kitchens must have a safe space for food storage and preparation, although a table can suffice if there is no countertop. Exterior areas must be free of peeling and loose paint if children under six years old have access to them.

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Plumbing System

The home needs to have kitchen and bathroom sinks with hot and cold running water. Both must connect to sewer lines for proper disposal of wastewater. The toilet doesn’t have to be in the same room as the bathroom sink, but it does need to be in a private area and it must be firmly attached to the floor. The home must also have a shower or tub with hot and cold running water. None of the water faucets or showerheads may leak.

Electrical System and Appliances

The kitchen and each bathroom need a working fixture light. Each room must have at least one electrical outlet, and all outlets must work and must have cover plates. Bathrooms that don’t have windows must have exhaust fans. Kitchens must include a stove and a refrigerator, and both appliances must function properly.

Heating and Cooling Systems

Landlords aren’t required to equip Section 8 units with air conditioners. However, the units must have central heating systems capable of heating the units to comfortable temperatures. HUD requires that landlords have furnaces inspected every two years.

General Safety

Section 8 homes must be clean, with no signs of pest infestation. Fire exits and public stairways must be free of debris and other hazards. Each bedroom must have a window that is suitable for use as an emergency exit, in addition to a door that can close and at least 80 square feet of floor space. Each floor of a Section 8 unit needs at least one functional smoke detector. Each unit must have a carbon monoxide detector as well.

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Common Reasons for Inspection Failure

According the New York City Housing Authority, among the most common reasons for inspection failure are ceiling and wall damage, like severe cracking, bulging or buckling or large amounts of loose paint. Cracked and broken windows and windows that don’t stay open also result in many failures. Other frequent causes of failure are pest infestation and loose or missing floor tiles.