Housing and Community Development

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Operating Hours: 8AM-4:30PM M-F

703-246-5000
TTY 711

3700 Pender Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030

Tom Fleetwood,
HCD Director

Housing Quality Standards Inspections

InspectionBefore a tenant can move into a unit in the federal Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, as well as certain other properties owned or subsidized by the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCHRA), it must be inspected to ensure that it meets the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) minimum Housing Quality Standards (HQS). These standards are established to ensure that homes are decent, sanitary and safe for tenants to occupy. 

Homes may not be occupied and rent payments cannot be processed until they pass the initial move-in inspection. After passing an initial move-in HQS inspection, homes are typically re-inspected every two years unless a safety concern or maintenance issue is reported.

If a unit fails an inspection (either the initial move-in inspection or a follow-up inspection) the landlord will need to make the required repairs and have the unit re-inspected within a designated timeframe (usually 30 days). Rental payments from the FCRHA can only be processed for homes that pass an HQS inspection.

The Inspection Process

Step 1: Your HQS Inspection Appointment

An HQS inspection is scheduled by the Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development.  An HQS inspector will contact the landlord or tenant to schedule the day and time of the inspection.

Outside of the regularly scheduled inspection, if there is a special concern or issue which requires a special inspection, landlords and/or tenants may call 703-246-5291 or email us at DHCDHousingInspections@fairfaxcounty.gov, to request an inspection.

Step 2: Inspection is Performed

The HQS inspection is conducted by one of our qualified HQS inspectors visiting the home in-person.  Depending on the size of the home or if there are any issues that need to be addressed, an HQS inspection typically takes between 15 to 30 minutes to complete.

Step 3: Obtain Inspection Results

You will know by the end of the inspection whether the home has passed or if there were any failing determinations that must be corrected before the unit can pass the HQS inspection.
 

  • If the Unit PASSED Inspection: In most cases, the next HQS Inspection will be required in 2 years.
     
  • If the Unit FAILS Inspection: The inspector will provide a list of deficiencies to the landlord that will need to be corrected and re-inspected – usually within 30 calendar days.  If any deficiencies pertain to a health and safety or a life-threatening emergency, those will need to be corrected and re-inspected on the next business day.

Step 4: Re-inspection (if the home fails its initial HQS inspection)

If your unit fails its HQS inspection, an inspector will provide you with a list of violations that must be corrected within a given timeframe. An inspector will arrange a date and time to conduct a re-inspection to ensure that the violations have been resolved.

  • If the Unit PASSES a Re-inspection: In most cases, the next HQS Inspection will be required in 2 years.
     
  • If the Unit FAILS a Re-inspection: The Housing Assistance Payments for the unit will be abated until the violations are corrected and the unit passes the HQS inspection. Landlords will not be paid rent for any amount of time the unit is in abatement. Once repairs are appropriately made, contact the HQS inspector to reschedule an inspection. This process will be repeated until the unit passes. Once a unit passes, in most cases, the next HQS Inspection will be required in 2 years.

If you have any questions about violations or what must be done to have them sufficiently corrected, please speak directly with your HQS inspector. You may also call 703-246-5291 or email DHCDHousingInspections@fairfaxcounty.gov to discuss the results of your inspection.

INSPECTIONS: WHAT WE’RE LOOKING FOR

HQS Inspection Checklist

HQS Inspectors will use the following checklist to determine if the unit will pass basic HQS inspection guidelines. Not all items listed below will be applicable to your unit. To make the inspection process as efficient as possible, you should identify any areas of concern and share them with the inspector ahead of time.

Note: A working smoke detector must be on each and every floor of the unit.

BUILDING EXTERIOR

 
Check mark Is the physical address indicated on the unit correct?
Check mark Are the foundation, stairs, walls, gutters and porch sound and free from hazards or deterioration (as applicable)?
Check mark Is there a handrail for four or more steps (if applicable)?
Check mark Are the chimney and other brick work free of loose bricks and mortar (if applicable)?
Check mark If the unit was built before 1978, is the paint chipping, peeling or cracking?

 

 

BUILDING EXTERIOR
ALL ROOMS

Check mark Are there two working electrical outlets (only for dining living and bedrooms)
Check mark Are walls, ceilings and floors (no tripping hazards) in good condition?
Check mark If the unit was built before 1978, is the paint chipping, peeling or cracking?
Check mark Are all doors working as designed?

 

 

KITCHEN

Check mark  Is there one outlet and one light fixture?
Check mark If appliances are provided, are they working properly?
Check mark Is the plumbing free from leaks and working properly?
Check mark Are GFI outlets installed and working?
Check mark Is there one outlet and one light fixture?
Check mark Are the refrigerator and oven gaskets in good condition?


     

BATHROOM

Check mark Is there one outlet and one light fixture?
Check mark Are the tub, sink, shower and toilet in working condition without leaks?
Check mark Is there a window or ventilation fan?
Check mark Are GFI outlets installed and working?

 

OTHER ITEMS

Check mark Are the furnace and water heater in operable and good condition?
Check mark Does the hot water heater have a pressure relief valve and discharge 6 to 8 inches from the floor?
Check mark Is the utility room free from clutter and flammable items?
Check mark Are GFI outlets installed and working?

 

Print Checklist
 

Most Frequently Failed HQS Items

Property managers, landlords, and tenants should pay particular attention to the following commonly failed items found during an HQS inspection.  Being aware of these issues, and correcting them if possible, prior to the HQS inspection will help your unit pass its scheduled inspection.  

  • Defective Refrigerator and/or Oven Gasket: The purpose of a gasket is to help seal the door of a refrigerator or oven to keep either cold (refrigerator) or heat (oven) inside the appliance.  If the gasket is damaged or loose, then the appliance is not operating efficiently as designed.
     
  • Defective Shower/Bathtub Diverter: If your bathtub has a showerhead, then it requires a diverter to redirect the water from the tub faucet to the showerhead.  If it is not working, water may simultaneously exit from both outlets. To pass HQS, it must be working properly as designed, and not leak from either outlet.
     
  • Broken or Inoperable Windows:  All windows must be working as designed and have a functional lock.  Each window will be inspected to ensure it stays open and can be locked. Windows should not be cracked and free from condensation if double paned.
     
  • Damaged or Inoperable Electrical Outlet: All electrical outlet covers should not be cracked, missing, or painted over.  All electrical outlets should be working as designed and will be tested as part of HQS.
     
  • Mildew-like Substance: HQS requires that the unit be free from mildew or like substance, especially in the kitchen and bathroom.  Areas that will be inspected will be underneath sinks, around the bathtub and the walls and ceilings.      
     
  • Smoke Detector Missing or Not Operable: HQS requires an operable smoke detector on each floor.  If no smoke detector is present or does not work, this is considered a life-threatening issue and the unit will immediately fail HQS.  This will need to be addressed and re-inspected within 24 hours.
     
  • Gas Burners on the Stove Not Operable: All burners (gas or electric) must be working as designed.  Pilots and stove knobs must be functional and not damaged or missing.  
     
  • Plumbing Issues: HQS will inspect to ensure there are no significant plumbing issues to include leaky faucets, and clogged sinks and/or toilets.
     
  • Exterior/Interior Door Issues: HQS requires that exterior doorways have adequate weather stripping that is not damaged or loose, is properly secured, and is working as designed.  Common door related failures include broken/loose doorknobs, cracks in the door, and doors that are unhinged from the door frame.
     
  • Improper Ventilation in Bathroom: HQS requires each bathroom have sufficient ventilation by way of a bathroom ceiling fan or operable window.  
     
  • Water Heaters with No Drain Stem or Pressure Release Pipe: HQS requires units that have water heaters must have a drain stem that is approximately 6 to 8 inches from a drain pan, as well as a functional pressure release pipe.
     
  • Clutter in Utility Room: HQS requires that the utility room be free of any clutter or items that will restrict direct access to the water heater and/or other appliances.  Anything stored in the utility room must not be flammable.
     
  • Double Keyed Deadbolts on Doors: Doors that are secured using a double keyed deadbolt are not permitted by HQS.  This poses a safety hazard to the resident in the event of a fire or other emergency if the keys cannot be located.
     
  • Damaged Floor Tiles, Carpet, or Other Flooring: HQS requires that flooring be free from tripping hazards, do not have damaged or missing floor tiles, or significant tears to the carpet.  
     
  • Pest Infestation: Evidence of mice, rats, fleas, roaches, bedbugs, and other vermin will result in an HQS fail.  Typically, the landlord is responsible for correcting this failure.  
     
  • Inadequate Fire Egress: All doorways and windows should be free from any obstructions that would potentially prevent anyone from exiting the unit in the event of a fire or other emergency.
     
  • Hanging Electric Wires/Open Unterminated Electric Wires: Electrical wires should not be exposed anywhere in the unit.  This poses a safety hazard to the resident.
     
  • Excessive Trash and Debris: The unit should be reasonably clean and organized to prevent safety (tripping) and health hazards.

24-Hour Life-Threatening Repair Items

According to the HQS program, the following violations represent life-threatening maintenance needs and MUST be corrected by the owner or tenant (whoever is responsible) within 24 hours of notice by the Inspector:

  • Non-working smoke detector or missing smoke detector as required
  • Lack of security for the unit 
  • Waterlogged ceiling in imminent danger of falling 
  • Major plumbing leaks or flooding 
  • Natural gas leak or fumes 
  • Electrical problem, which could result in shock or fire 
  • No heat when outside temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and temperature inside unit is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Utilities not in service, including no running hot water
  • Broken glass where someone could be injured 
  • Obstacle that prevents tenant's entrance or exit or lack of alternative means of exit in case of fire or blocked egress
  • Lack of functioning toilet 
  • Interior air quality (inoperable or missing carbon monoxide detector, where required) 
  • Gas/oil fired water heater or heating, ventilation, or cooling system with missing, damaged, improper, or misaligned chimney or venting 
  • Other interior hazards (missing or damaged fire extinguisher, where required) 
  • Deteriorated paint surfaces in a unit built before 1978 and to be occupied by a family with a child under 6 years of age 

PLEASE NOTE:

  • The FCRHA may give a short extension (not more than 48 additional hours) whenever the responsible party cannot be notified, or it is impossible to affect the repair within the 24-hour period. 
     
  • In those cases where there is leaking gas or potential of fire or other threat to public safety, and the responsible party cannot be notified or it is impossible to make the repair, proper authorities will be notified by FCRHA. 
     
  • If the emergency repair item(s) are not corrected in the time required by FCRHA, and the owner is responsible, the housing assistance payment will be abated, and the HAP contract can be terminated. 
     
  • If the emergency repair item(s) are not corrected in the period required by FCRHA and it is an HQS breach that is a family obligation, FCRHA can terminate the assistance to the family. 

If you have any questions, please contact the Inspections Team at 703-246-5291.

HQS Inspection Frequently Asked Questions
 

QUESTIONS?

For more information about HQS inspections or to ask specific questions pertaining to your home’s HQS Inspections, please contact by calling 703-246-5291 or emailing DHCDHousingInspections@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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