This month, we focus on the initial HQS inspection process. First, a quick reminder that this blog post is part of a series just for our landlords. So far, we’ve provided a primer on our Permanent Supportive Housing and Rapid Rehousing programs, how to process move-outs and damage claims in the programs, the benefits of direct deposit and the launch of Padmission, our new web-based housing search platform. Be sure to check out the older posts if you’ve missed any and share them with your team and colleagues.
Initial HQS Inspection
HOM Housing Inspectors are some of the very best in the field, having many years of experience and inspections under their belt. Providing “decent, safe and sanitary” housing starts with the initial inspection of units receiving assistance in our housing programs and continues throughout the assisted tenancy. When units fail the initial HQS inspection, the housing process slows drastically and negatively impacts us all. Tenant move-ins are delayed, additional scheduling and paperwork is required, and landlords get paid less and later in the process. Let’s look at how we can best avoid these scenarios.
Efficiency and Productivity
Did you know that we help our partners house over 1,200 new housing program participants annually? Between new program participants coming into the program for the first time and existing participants moving to new units, we perform over 154 initial HQS inspections each month. Add home visits, annual inspections, and move-out inspections to that list and you can see how busy our Inspectors are every day. We strive to be as efficient and effective as possible in scheduling and performing inspections. One way that landlords can help us in this effort is to ensure that units are ready for the initial HQS inspection on the date that they are scheduled for. Unfortunately, we’re seeing an increase in the rate of failed initial inspections on our first inspection attempts. Last year, 27% of initial inspections failed on the first attempt. That’s roughly 500 inspections, which translates to about 62 days of lost Inspector productivity. Here’s the rub: most of these fails weren’t because of major inspection deficiencies. The units just weren’t ready to be inspected in the first place.
Failed Initial HQS Inspections – Most Common Issues
Below are the most common reasons why units are not passing initial inspections on the first attempt:
- A unit that does not have utilities turned on. When this occurs, we are unable to test all the necessary items that relay on electricity, gas, and water to ensure their safety and workability. Remember, the landlord is responsible for ensuring that all utilities are on at the dwelling unit at the time of the initial HQS inspection.
- A unit that has not been turned. For example, the unit has not been cleaned, the unit is not move-in ready, the appliances have not been re-installed, or there are immediate visible damages (such as broken windows, doors, etc.)
- The inspector is unable to gain access. For example, the lock box code did not work, did not have a key in it or had the wrong key, or the lock box was not present at all. Other examples include the office being closed or we were unable to reach the onsite contact to gain access.
- Other common HQS Fail Items can be found on the Landlord Tip Sheet.
Tips to prepare for Initial HQS Inspections
We understand failing the initial HQS inspection is very frustrating for everyone involved, but hopefully the tips list below can provide some value and insight for you to pass the inspection on the first go-round.
- Walk the unit 24-48 hours prior to the inspection date. This would provide you an opportunity to correct any deficiencies before the unit gets inspected.
- Test all smoke detectors and appliances to ensure they are in proper working condition.
- Make sure that all utilities, including electricity, gas, and water are on in the unit prior to the inspection.
- Maintain open communication! Notify us immediately if there are any delays in scheduled work on the unit or if there are any other changes that might affect our ability to inspect the unit. We are more than happy to reschedule the inspection for the next available date.
HOM and Landlord Partnership
Our landlords (YOU!) are one of our most valuable partners in ending homelessness, and we want to provide you with the best customer service to ensure maximum success for all parties involved. We will always provide you email notification in advance of a scheduled HQS Inspections, contact you the day of the inspection to give you an estimated time of arrival, and demonstrate attentiveness and responsiveness to your needs.
If you have questions or need support, please reach out. You can always find emails and phone numbers for anyone on our team on our Team page. We’re here to serve you.