Housing Quality Standards
What Are Housing Quality Standards?
All rental units subsidized under the Section 8 Program must
meet Housing Quality Standards (HQS). HQS is a comprehensive
program established by HUD to ensure that the housing it subsidizes
remains decent, safe, and sanitary.
The following summary of Housing Quality Standards is intended
to help owners prepare rental units for HQS inspections, and
is not intended to cover every aspect of the HQS regulations.
Units must include a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and one
living/sleeping room for every two family members. Various
types of housing are acceptable, such as single family homes,
duplexes, tri-plexes, quads, and multi-floor apartment complexes.
Mobile homes are acceptable. Efficiency apartments are acceptable
for use by one or two people.
Ceilings and walls must be in good condition, with
no large cracks, holes, or loose plaster. There should be
no evidence of water stains which would indicate leaks.
Floors must be in sound condition with no rotten or
weak areas. The floor covering must not be curling or have
loose edges, holes, cracked areas, or frayed sections that
create a trip hazard.
Windows, including sills, frames, and sashes; must
be in good operating condition and must open and close. Double
hung windows are considered deteriorated if they have to be
propped open to keep the sash up.
Living rooms must have a window, but it does not have
There can be no broken, cracked, or missing panes. Windows
must have permanently attached, adequate locks.
Wiring: All sleeping rooms, and the living room must
have either two working outlets; or one working outlet and
a permanent light fixture. Other rooms must have a means of
natural or artificial illumination.
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. Outlet
covers cannot be cracked or broken.
Paint: units built before 1978 may have lead-based
paint. Such units occupied by children under the age of six
or with pregnant mother cannot have cracking, scaling, chipping,
chalking, or peeling paint, either on the interior or the
exterior. See Lead Paint in Section
8 Housing for more information.
Kitchen Stove or Range with Oven. All burners must work.
If equipped with a pilot light, the pilot light must light
the burners. The oven must work and its door must close tightly.
All control knobs must be present and work. (Note: Stove or
range can be supplied either by the tenant or the landlord.)
Refrigerator. The door gasket must be attached to
the door, forming a proper seal. The refrigerator must maintain
a temperature low enough to keep food from spoiling over a
reasonable period of time. (Note: The refrigerator can be
supplied either by the tenant or the landlord.)
Kitchen Sink. Must have hot and cold running water,
a drain with trap, and be properly hooked to a sewer line.
A sink in a bathroom does not satisfy the kitchen requirement.
Food prep: There must be adequate food preparation
and storage areas.
Bathroom Toilet. There must be a private flush toilet
available for the exclusive use of the occupants of the unit.
It must be connected to a water supply and be fastened tightly
to the floor.
Bathroom Sink. See Kitchen. A sink in a kitchen does
not satisfy the bathroom requirement.
Tub or Shower. There must be a bathtub or shower.
Bathroom Ventilation. There must be adequate ventilation
either from an openable window or an exhaust fan. Exhaust
vents must be vented to the outside, attic, or crawlspace.
(Note: the space above a suspended ceiling is not considered
Bedrooms Windows: Must have an window that opens and
is large enough to use as an emergency exit.
Heating : There must be a heating system capable of
adequately heating all living areas in the unit. Portable
electrical or kerosene heaters are not an acceptable heating
Steps and Porches : Porches, balconies, decks, etc.,
that are 30 inches, or higher, above the ground must have
a railing 36 inches high. All inside and outside stairs with
3 or more steps must have a handrail, and be structurally
Site Hazards : There can be no hazards on the site,
such as dilapidated structures, trash, or debris.
There must be no roaches or rodents.
Smoke Detectors : must work, be located outside each
sleeping area, at least one on each floor of the rental unit.
Hearing impaired tenants require smoke alarms with a detector
outside the bedroom, and a specially designed alarm (usually
very loud and with a bright strobing light) inside the bedroom.
Laundry rooms require smoke detectors.
Water Heaters : must have a properly installed pressure
relief valve. The discharge line must extend downward to within
18-24 inches from the floor if not routed outside.
Garbage Disposing : Each unit must have adequate garbage
disposing and storage facilities.
Most Common Causes of Failed Inspections
- Broken or cracked windows
- Windows that wont stay open and have to be propped
- Inadequate bathroom ventilation; must be openable window
OR exhaust fan
- No handrails on three or more steps
- No guard rails on drop-offs exceeding 30 inches
- No pressure relief valve and discharge line on water heater
- Missing smoke detectors, or detectors with missing or
- Loose edges on carpeting or vinyl, which causes a trip
- Leaking faucets or plumbing
- Inoperable stove ovens, burners, or ventilating hoods.