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Sep 26

Rental Fundamentals: Preparing for a New Unit Inspection

Posted on September 26, 2017 at 12:43 pm by Dawn Corrigan

By Demetrius Pettway, Customer Service Representative

Whether leasing up with a voucher for the first time or moving to a different unit, all voucher tenants want the move-in process to go quickly and smoothly. A big part of that is making sure the rental unit meets Housing Quality Standards (HQS) so it will receive a passed inspection. For the tenant, preparing for the inspection actually starts with the unit selection process. When choosing the right place to call home, you should always view, in person, the exact apartment or home that the landlord/rental agency will be offering you for residence. A good idea for any prospective tenant is to take note of any safety or maintenance issues that stand out during your first walk through. Don’t be afraid to bring up any issues that cause concern with the landlord at that time, and be sure to ask how soon those issues can be corrected.

For potential landlords/property managers who would like to participate in the Housing Choice Voucher program, I recommend that you complete your own inspection of the unit, ideally with the assistance of your maintenance personnel, prior to calling Pensacola Housing to schedule our visit. Repair, replace, correct, and clean as much as possible that you can spot. This should be especially easy for those landlords/property managers who have worked with the program before and are familiar with the HQS checklist.

For both tenants and landlords, the Housing Division does offer a general pre- inspection checklist via our portal on the City of Pensacola website. But because I receive many questions about HQS when scheduling inspection appointments, I thought I’d call out a few issues for landlords to take note of.

First, the exterior of the building and the surrounding grounds must be groomed, clean, and free of all debris. Peeling or chipping paint is a red flag for our inspectors that will always result in a deficiency. Exterior windows and doors should function properly and be easily accessible and properly weather sealed.

Before you call to schedule the inspection, the interior of the home should be cleaned to a move-in ready level, meaning it is in “safe and sanitary” condition. All appliances need to function as the manufacturer intended and be clean and sanitary, as should the bathrooms and their fixtures and fittings.

Having to schedule multiple inspection visits to the same unit, because it wasn’t ready the first time, is frustrating for everyone and results in a later start date for the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract, and a delay in landlord payments. Taking the time to prepare for the inspection in advance will result in a faster lease up process, shorter vacancy periods, and a better voucher program experience for everyone.