HUD Housing Quality Standards Explained in Plain English

Whether you're a landlord or tenant, knowing what are housing quality standards is essential if you're renting subsidized housing in the United States. Learn the answer here.

What are Housing Quality Standards HQS?

HQS are the minimum health and safety standards that rental properties must meet if they are to be rented out to government-subsidized tenants (from the Housing Choice Voucher HCQ, Section 8 and Indian Housing programs).

The purpose is of these standards is make sure low income families on public assistance are offered rental housing that is both safe and sanitary. In other words, it prevents unscrupulous landlords from exploiting subsidized tenants and offering them substandard housing.

These housing standards apply to all types of rental homes that are rented out to subsidized tenants, regardless of its location and size.

General Criteria and Requirements of HQS

The housing standards cover 13 general aspects of rental property living conditions, including:

  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Living Space & Home Security
  • Heating & Cooling
  • Lighting & Electrical Fixtures
  • Structural Integrity
  • Air Quality
  • Plumbing Fixtures
  • Lead-Based Paint
  • Property Access
  • Neighborhood Condition
  • Pest Infestation
  • Smoke Detectors

For more details on the exact housing requirements, you can view Chapter 10: Housing Quality Standards of the online Housing Choice Voucher Guidebook.

How are These Housing Standards Enforced?

To make sure that landlords are able to meet these standards, HQS inspections will be carried out on rental housing for subsidized tenants. These inspections are conducted by Public Housing Agency PHA employees or private contractors hired by them.

There are three scenarios where a HQS inspection will be conducted:

  1. Initial Inspection: When a HCQ or Section 8 tenant informs PHA that they would like to rent a particular rental property.
  2. Annual Inspection: HCQ inspections are conducted yearly on rental properties that house government-subsidized tenants.
  3. Complaint Inspection: Conducted if the tenant or a member of the public complains to PHA that the rental property fails to meet HUD's housing standards.

NEXT: Section 8 Inspection Process and Checklist