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Biennial Inspections begin Sept. 1, 2013

Seattle Housing will begin implementing biennial inspections this September 1, 2013 to increase efficiency and make the inspection process easier for landlords and tenants. Seattle Housing worked within HUD guidelines to develop criteria for biennial inspections and, based on the criteria, Incentive Units were created.

Q. How will the biennial inspection process work?
In order to implement this process, we have divided qualified Incentive Units into two phases. Phase 1 begins in 2013 through 2014. Phase 2 will begin in 2015.

Q. What is an Incentive Unit?
Passing two consecutive yearly inspections the first time out qualifies a unit as an "Incentive Unit," which allows for a biennial inspection schedule.

Q. If I had an initial (move-in) inspection this year, does the unit qualify as an Incentive Unit?
No, the biennial criteria require that the unit must pass two yearly inspections consecutively.

Q. How can the unit become an Incentive Unit?
The landlord and tenant need to communicate with each other regarding unit conditions, conduct pre-inspections, and make sure any repairs needed are done prior to the HQS inspection so the unit passes the first time we come out for two consecutive years.

Q. How do I know if my unit is an Incentive Unit and when my next inspection will be?
As in years past, a notice will be sent approximately 3 weeks prior to the inspection date. If you are unsure when your next inspection is, you may contact the Inspection Scheduling Desk at 206-239-1645.

Q. If the unit is an Incentive Unit and qualifies for a biennial inspection, can the qualification change?
Yes. If a unit fails the next HQS inspection, the unit will no longer meet the criteria of passing two yearly inspections and will be placed on a yearly inspection schedule.

Q. What if an Incentive Unit on the biennial schedule needs repairs before the next inspection?
If, at any time, the family or owner notifies SHA in writing that the unit does not meet Housing Quality Standards, SHA may conduct a complaint inspection. If the family or landlord indicates items need repair, SHA will first contact the owner or tenant to assess whether they are aware of the repairs needed and if they have begun to address the repair issues. If they have not addressed the issue and/or if SHA determines that an inspection is warranted, one will be scheduled.

The complaint inspection process (below) will need to be followed:

Complaint Process:

  • Contact the landlord or tenant, in writing, about repairs that need to be made.
  • Send a copy of the letter to SHA.
  • If no attempt has been made to make repairs after 10 days, contact SHA in writing about the lack of response.

Q. If the unit has a complaint inspection, will it still be an Incentive Unit and have biennial inspections?
If a unit has a complaint inspection initiated, the unit will be placed back on the annual schedule if it fails. If the unit passes the complaint inspection the first time out, the unit will remain a biennial inspection.