The Most Northeastern City in the United States.

Inspections


Caribou Municipal Building
25 High St
Caribou, Maine 04736
Phone: (207) 493-4234
Fax: (207) 376-0178
E-mail: housing@cariboumaine.org

 


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The housing unit selected by the family must meet an acceptable level of health and safety before the CHA can approve the unit. When the voucher holder finds a unit that it wishes to occupy and reaches an agreement with the landlord over the lease terms, the CHA must inspect the dwelling and determine that the rent requested is reasonable.  CHA will inspect the subsidized unit annually to determine that it meets HQS.

Types of Inspections

Initial Inspections

In order for a unit to be approved for participation in the rental assistance program, it must first be inspected by a CHA staff inspector to determine if the unit meets the HQS requirements. This inspection will be scheduled with the owner once the RFTA is received and the proposed rent has been determined reasonable. The inspection will not be scheduled until the unit is unoccupied and all utilities are on. A unit can be occupied when the tenant is leasing the unit at the time the voucher is issued and wishes to remain in it. If the unit fails the inspection, a notice will be sent to the owner detailing the deficiencies, once the repairs have been completed the HA will schedule a re­-inspection.

Annual Inspections

To comply with HUD regulations annual HQS inspections are conducted within 12 months of the initial or previous annual inspection. Notification is mailed to the landlord and tenant approximately 14 days in advance. Tenants are responsible for providing access to the premises; failure to comply may result in termination of assistance. Written notification will be sent to both tenant and landlord outlining the deficiencies found and the party responsible for correcting the violations. Re-inspections will be automatically scheduled 30 days from the date of the first inspection, if it fails again for the same violations the property will be abated as per the terms of the HAP Contract.

Special Inspections

These are done at the request of the landlord or the tenant and are normally due to a complaint. Violations should be corrected using the same time frame as the annual inspections. Failure to comply may result in abatement or termination of assistance.

Emergency (24 hours) Inspections

An emergency inspection will be performed upon request when a condition poses an immediate threat to the safety or health of the family. If the following types of violations are found the deficiencies must be corrected within 24 hours and there-inspection scheduled for the next day.

  • No water, electricity or gas (when needed for a range or heater)
  • Major plumbing leaks, flooding or sewer back up
  • Gas leaks or fumes
  • Uninhabitable units due to fire or natural disaster
  • No operational sanitary facilities
  • Electrical fixtures that spark, short circuits or smokes, creating a fire hazard
  • Any condition that jeopardizes the security/safety of the unit

Quality Control Inspections

These Inspections are performed to comply with HUD requirements, where a percentage of the units inspected must be selected at random and re-inspected to determine the quality of the previous inspections.

The 13 key aspects of housing quality covered by the HQS include:

1 Sanitary facilities

The welling unit must include sanitary facilities within the unit.  The facilities must have hot and cold running water and must be properly trapped and vented.  The facilities must utilize an approved public or private disposal system, including a locally approved septic system.

2.  Food preparation and refuse disposal

The dwelling unit must have a suitable space and equipment to store, prepare and serve food in a sanitary manner.  All required equipment must be in proper operating condition.  According to the lease, equipment may be supplied by either the owner or the family. The kitchen sink must have hot and cold running water and drain into an approved public or private system. Waste and refuse storage facilities are determined by local practice and may include trash cans or dumpster facilities.

3. Space and security

The dwelling unit must provide adequate space and security for the family. Window and door surfaces (including the frames) must be in sufficient condition to support the installation and proper operation of the windows and doors and their locking mechanism.

4. Thermal environment

The dwelling unit must be able to provide thermal environment that is healthy for the human body. The heating and/or air conditioning system must be in proper operating condition. All gas fired systems must be properly vented. Working cooling systems are not required by HQS, but if present must be operating safely so not to create a potential fire hazard or other threat to health and safety.

5. Illumination and electricity

Each room must have adequate natural or artificial illumination to permit normal indoor activities and to support the health and safety of the occupants. The dwelling unit must have sufficient electrical sources so occupants can use essential electrical appliances. Electrical outlets and switches must be properly installed and maintained.  There must be at least one operable window in both the living room and each sleeping room.

6. Structure and materials

The dwelling unit must be structurally sound and protect the occupants, using proper maintenance and construction practices. The unit must be weather-proofed and guard against vermin infiltration.  Handrails are required when three or more steps (risers) are present, and protective railings are required when porches, balconies and stoops are thirty inches above grade.

7.  Interior air quality

The dwelling unit must be free of air pollutant levels that threaten the occupants’ health.  Windows designed to open must not be painted or nailed shut. The ventilation fan in the bathroom must operate as intended.

8.  Water supply

The dwelling unit must be served by an approved public or private water supply that is sanitary and free from contamination.  All water heaters must be free of leaks, have a pressure relief valve and a properly installed discharge line. Fuel burning equipment must have the proper clearance from combustible materials and be properly vented.

9.  Lead-based paint

The Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act as amended (42 U.S.C. 4821 – 4846) and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 and implementing regulations 24 CFR Part 35 Subparts A,B,M, and R apply to the housing choice voucher program.

10.  Access

The building must provide an alternate means of exit in case of a fire

11.  Site and neighborhood

The site and neighborhood must be reasonably free from disturbing noises and reverberations or other danger to the health, safety and general welfare of the occupants.

12.  Sanitary condition

The dwelling unit, its equipment, elements and components must be in sanitary condition. The unit must be free of vermin and rodent infestation.

13.  Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

There must be one hard-wired and battery powered smoke detector on each level of the dwelling unit, including basements (preferably outside of bedroom).

There must be on line-voltage and battery powered carbon monoxide detector in the dwelling unit (preferably outside of bedroom).

General Inspection Requirements

The following list of basic items is checked at the time of an inspection.

All exterior surfaces

  • Surfaces must be properly installed, structurally sound, weather resistant and rodent proof.
  • Sidewalk, steps and driveways should be properly maintained and free of hazards. Handrails and guardrails will also be inspected.
  • Yard areas and fence/gates will be checked for proper maintenance and hazards.

All interior areas

  • Windows and doors must operate properly and have the proper functioning locks.
  • Interior surfaces and trim must be properly installed and maintained.
  • Floors, walls and ceiling should be structural sound.
  • Unit should be clean and clutter free.

Plumbing

  • All fixtures must be clean and functioning properly. The fixtures will be checked for proper water pressure and proper drainage to an approved public sewer system.
  • Fixtures will be checked for hot and cold running water.
  • The plumbing system will be checked for proper maintenance and installation.

Electric

  • All electrical equipment, wiring and appliances will be checked for proper installation.
  • Outlets and switches will be checked to make sure they function properly.
  • Every habitable space in a dwelling shall contain at least two separate and remote outlets. Every laundry area shall contain at least one grounded type outlet. Every bathroom shall contain at least one grounded outlet.
  • Service entrance lines will be checked for proper height, clearance and installation.
  • Electrical service panels will be checked for proper fuse/breaker size and proper number of circuits.
  • Every dwelling shall be served by a main service which is not less than 60 amperes.
  • Every public hall, interior stairway, bathroom, laundry room and furnace room shall contain at least one electrical light fixture.

MOST COMMON HQS FAIL ITEMS

  1. Inoperable light fixtures and improperly wired electrical outlets (reverse polarity, open ground, hot neutral reverse, etc.)
  2. Deteriorated and unstable paint on surfaces (peeling, cracking, chipping, etc.) in units built prior to 1978 where children under the age of six reside or will reside
  3. Missing, inoperable or incorrectly mounted smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  4. Broken or inoperable windows (cracked glass panes, broken locks, drafty frames, etc.)
  5. Exposed electrical wires/connections (light fixtures missing globes, electrical junction boxes missing cover plates or knockout plugs, breaker boxes with open sockets, etc.)
  6. Broken/faulty door locks and drafty doors
  7. Cutting hazards, including protruding sharp nails pipes/metals objects with jagged edges,deteriorated sheet metal, cracked glass blocks on windows,etc.
  8. Gaps/holes around heating system flue pipes and gas utility not in service
  9. Evidence of rodent and/or bug infestation
  10. Holes and large gaps (more than a quarter inch) on walls/ceilings/floors of living space areas

HAP Abatements

Abatements become effective the first of the month following the failed re-inspection and will continue until the owner corrects the deficiency and the unit passes inspection. Abatement is a period of time when the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) is not made to the owner. It is imposed as the result of program violations; therefore no retroactive payments will be made for the time the unit remains under abatement. During abatements, the HAP contract remains in force, for this reason, abatement of HAP is not legal grounds for evicting a tenant. As long as the tenant continues paying his/her portion of the rent the family cannot be evicted, federal regulations prohibit owners from evicting a tenant for an abated HAP. The owner’s HAP will be reinstated once required repairs are made and unit passes inspection.

Lead Based Paint

In 1978 lead-based paint was banned for residential use by EPA. HUD requires tenants and landlords are informed about the dangers of lead-based paint poisoning. It is the landlord’s responsibility to inform tenants that there may be lead-based paint in the unit.