Reviews & Inspections
- Annual reviews
- Reviews every 3 years
- Special reviews
- Annual inspections
- Inspection requirements
- Common causes of failed inspections
Once a year, Seattle Housing Authority checks to make sure that participating households are still eligible for the program and recalculates the amount of voucher assistance they receive. The annual review begins several months before the lease anniversary, and must be completed by the anniversary for assistance to continue. The agency checks the household's income and family composition. If any of these items change, the voucher amount is adjusted accordingly.
Reviews every 3 years
Some households are eligible to have a review only once every three years. If all of the adults in the household are elderly or disabled, the household will not receive a review packet every year. However, these households are still required to report any interim changes as described below.
If the household's income, family composition, or immigration status change in between annual reviews, tenants are required to inform Seattle Housing Authority. The agency will perform a special review in these cases to determine if the tenant’s amount of housing assistance should be adjusted.
Seattle Housing Authority inspects each subsidized unit at least once a year to ensure compliance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Quality Standards. The annual inspection generally takes place at about the same time as the tenant’s annual review. The unit must pass the inspection for voucher assistance to continue.
If the unit fails inspection due to tenant-caused damage, the owner may require the tenant to pay for or repair the damage. Owners will receive a written notice of the date and time of the annual inspection. Owners need not be present, but the tenant or a representative of the tenant who is at least 18 years old must be present.
If the owner does not maintain the unit in accordance with applicable laws and Housing Quality Standards, Seattle Housing Authority may withhold or terminate housing assistance payments to the owner. If tenants do not pay for or repair tenant-caused damage, Seattle Housing Authority may terminate their assistance.
The unit must include a living room, kitchen, bathroom and one living/sleeping room for every two family members. In addition:
- Ceilings and walls must be in good condition, with no large cracks, holes, peeling or chipping paint or loose plaster.
- Floors must be in good condition. The floor covering must not be curling or have loose edges or holes.
- Windows, including sills, frames and sashes, must be in good operating condition and must open and close. There can be no broken, cracked or missing window panes. Windows must have permanently attached, adequate locks.
- All rooms must have either two working outlets or one working outlet and an overhead light or light fixture.
- All outlets, switches and electrical boxes must have covers with no exposed or fraying wires. All electrical splices must be properly contained in junction boxes with covers.
- All stove burners must work. If the stove is equipped with a pilot light, the pilot light must light the burners.
- The oven must work and its door must close tightly. All parts must be functional, including the oven door seal gasket.
- The refrigerator door gasket must be attached to the door, forming a proper seal.
- The sink must have hot and cold running water and a drain with a trap. The sink must be properly hooked to a sewer line. Neither the faucet nor the sink can leak or drip.
- There must be adequate food preparation and storage areas, with adequate means to dispose of food wastes.
- There must be a private flush toilet fastened tightly to the floor.
- The bathroom sink must meet the same criteria as the kitchen sink.
- There must be a bathtub or shower.
- There must be adequate ventilation either from an operable window or an exhaust fan.
- There can be no rotten or weak areas in the floor, nor any water damage.
Bedrooms or sleeping rooms
Windows must open and be large enough to us as an emergency exit. There must be a door which can be closed.
There must be a heating system capable of heating the entire unit to a comfortable temperature. Furnaces must be serviced every two years and tested at the initial inspection.
Steps and porches
Porches, balconies, decks and similar structures more than 30 inches above the ground must have a railing 36 inches high. All inside and outside stairs must have a handrail and be structurally sound.
There can be no hazards on the site, such as dilapidated structures, trash, debris, unlicensed vehicles or non-maintained vegetation.
There must be no roaches or rodents.
Smoke detectors must work. Smoke detectors must be located outside each sleeping area and on each floor of the rental unit. Hearing impaired tenants require smoke detectors with lights. Laundry rooms require smoke detectors or heat detection devices.
Water heaters in units and laundry rooms must have a properly installed pressure relief valve and hot water-tolerant discharge line (no PVC). The discharge line must extend downward to within 6 inches of the floor or be routed to the exterior within 6 inches above the ground.
Each unit must have adequate garbage disposing and storage facilities.
Units built before 1978 may have lead-based paint. Such units occupied by children under the age of six and/or a pregnant household member cannot have any substantial chipping or peeling paint, either on the interior or the exterior.
Common causes of failed inspections
- Utilities are not turned on at the time of the inspection.
- Gas or oil furnaces are not operating at the time of the initial inspection.
- Appliances are not working properly or have missing parts.
- The only smoke detector on any given level of a unit is located in a kitchen.
- Smoke detectors are not located near sleeping areas, on all levels, or in a common laundry room.
- Smoke detectors are not working properly, for example, they are missing batteries or their batteries are low on power.
- Outlet or light switch cover plates are broken or missing.
- Junction boxes or electrical panels are open, exposing wires and wire connections.
- Hot water tanks do not have a pressure/temperature relief valve and discharge line.
- Plumbing fixtures leak or drains are plugged.
- Window panes are broken or windows do not have locks.
- All the windows in any bedroom have non-releasing type security bars installed.
- Stairs with four or more steps do not have a railing. This rule applies to both the interior and exterior of the unit.
- Exterior doors have double-keyed deadbolts.
- Deteriorated paint is present on any surface of the interior or exterior of buildings, fences, concrete surfaces or other structures on the property. This rule applies to buildings built before 1978 that are occupied by children under the age of six or by a pregnant tenant.