Tip Sheet To Passing The Housing Quality Inspection


Listed below are some of the most important items that the inspector looks for on the initial and annual inspections as required by HUD. Please note that the Housing Authority has the right to adopt local codes for acceptability criteria that are more stringent than the HQS standards. This tip sheet is only meant to be a guide to helping the landlord know what the inspector is looking for to increase the chances of passing inspection the first time.

A Unit should always be in “move-in” condition at the time of inspection. All painting and repairs should be completed.

All rooms used for living:

must have electricity, permanent heat, and at least 1 window that opens and closes properly.


In order to be counted as such, it is generally required that it meet the square footage requirement as set by the city code.

In lower Westchester it must be at least70 square feet.

If in doubt, call your local building department and ask.

This is important because the rent payment is based on the number of legal bedrooms.

In addition to meeting the requirements of a “room used for living” most municipalities require a bedroom have a door at entry and an intact, working doorknob on all doors.

Lead Base Paint:

In units built before 1978 where there are children under the age of 6, all painted surfaces must be free of defective paint or adequately treated.

There must be 1 working smoke detector present in each bedroom.

The requirement may change based on the size and configuration of the unit.

For example:
if there is a long hallway leading to any rooms used for sleeping, an additional smoke detector may be required in that hallway.

There must be a Carbon Monoxide detector in any unit, no matter how many units there are (including single family homes) that has any appliance, device or system that is fuel burning (emits carbon monoxide) or has an attached garage.

There must be a Carbon Monoxide Detector within 15 ft. of every bedroom.


There must be at least 2 permanent working outlets or 1 permanent outlet and 1 permanent light fixture (both working) in each room used for living.

No broken, non-insulated, or frayed wiring. Light fixtures must not have exposed wiring.

Missing cover plates on switches or outlets, badly cracked outlets, exposed fuse box connections and overloaded circuits are a failure.


Must open and close properly.

All windows that are accessible from the outside and fire escape windows must have properly working locks

No missing, broken out, or dangerously loose window panes. Window frames must not be severely deteriorated and must form a reasonably tight seal when closed.

Window Guards:

Are usually necessary if any children under the age of 11 years old will occupy the unit. Not every municipality has a window guard law so check with your local Buildings Department.

They must be installed in every window that any child could fall out of and get hurt. The only exception is windows that lead to a fire escape.

Usually 1st floor apartments don’t need them, however use common sense where this is concerned.

If your landscape is sloped causing a drop on the sides or in the rear of the property, install the guards prior to the inspection.


Must not have severe bulging or buckling, large holes, missing parts, falling or in danger of falling loose surface materials.


Must not have severe buckling, bulging or leaning, large holes or air infiltration. No raw plaster on the surfaces.

If surface is not freshly painted it must be clean, no peeling or chipping present and not in need of a fresh paint job.


Must not have tripping hazards, large cracks or holes, substantial drafts from below the floor, severe buckling, movements under walking stress or damaged or missing parts, or any other defect that causes a potential for structural collapse.


There must be a working stove and oven.

All four burners on the range top must ignite without a match.

There must be a working refrigerator suitable for the size of the family.

There must be a permanently attached sink with running hot and cold water from the faucets and a properly connected and properly working drain.

No leaking pipes or faucets Neither the Stove nor refrigerator can be on an extension cord. That is a Fire Department code.

There must be some space available for the storage, preparation, and serving of food.


Must have 1 permanent working light fixture.

There must be an operable window or a working vent.

There must be a toilet in proper operating condition, and be available for the exclusive use of the occupants of the unit

The sink must be permanently installed and properly working.

No leaking pipes or faucets There must be a working tub or shower in the unit.

Building Exterior:

The foundation must not have any severe defects, including allowance of significant entry of ground water No broken, rotting, or missing steps.

There must be a handrail wherever there are 4 or more consecutive steps

Heating and Plumbing:

The unit must be free from un-vented fuel burning space heaters or any other types of unsafe heating conditions.

The hot water heater must be located, equipped and installed in a safe manner.

The plumbing must be free from major leaks or corrosion The plumbing must be free from sewer back-up.

General Health and Safety:

There must be a working smoke detector in every bedroom and a Carbon Monoxide detector within 15 feet of every bedroom. 

The unit must have it’s own private entrance. If access to the unit is only possible by means of passage through another unit, this is a failure.

The building must have an alternative means of exit that meets local or State regulations in case of fire.

The unit must be free of roach, mice, or rat infestation or any signs of such.

No heavy accumulation of trash or garbage inside the unit, in common areas, or outside.

Tenant must be provided with adequate covered facilities for garbage disposal which includes trash cans with covers, garbage chutes and dumpsters.

No loose, broken or missing steps in the interior or the exterior of the property

A handrail is required where there are 4 or more consecutive steps

Lead paint requirements apply to all painted surfaces on the interior, exterior, entry ways, and within the hallway providing access to a unit in a multi-unit building

Any interior conditions that might present a hazard can be deemed a failure (ie: hanging ceiling tiles, protruding nails, broken fixtures, etc).

Any site and neighborhood conditions that would seriously and continuously endanger the health or safety of the residents can be deemed a failure.


This document is by no means intended to be a legal guide, or to replace or supersede any laws of any Local, Municipal, County, City, or State law. It is a tip sheet written with the sole purpose of giving landlords a basic understanding of what the HQS inspection entails. As noted in the opening paragraph, municipalities have the right to adopt more stringent codes. If you are in doubt as to whether or not an item in your unit will pass or fail contact the Section 8 office that is doing the inspection or your local buildings department.

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