A Good Place to Live

Overview

The goal of the Voucher program is to provide safe decent and sanitary housing at an affordable cost to very low-income households. The Voucher program gives you the freedom and responsibility to choose the place you want to live; it may be where you live now or somewhere else. With the help of the Voucher program you should be able to afford a safe, healthy and comfortable place to live, so you need to think about what you would like your home to have. You may want a big kitchen, on-site laundry, lots of windows or a first floor apartment. Worn wallpaper or paint may bother you. Think of these things as you are searching for a home.

Remember, you and the landlord will be signing a Lease Agreement for the place you choose to rent; which is a legally binding contract for both parties. The Sioux Falls Housing & Redevelopment Commission (SFHRC) will not allow you to transfer your rental assistance to another unit until the end of your Lease. It is important to carefully select the place you want to rent.

Before SFHRC can start paying rental assistance on the place you select it must evaluate the place to confirm that it is a safe and healthy place for your family. SFHRC’s decision whether the place is safe and healthy is based on the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development’s Housing Quality Standards (HQS). HQS are nation-wide, minimum standards. You may want to rent a place that exceeds HUD’s HQS, which SFHRC strongly encourages you to do.

The HQS evaluation is graded on a Pass or Fail basis; even a minor deficiency will fail the entire unit (for example, one outlet cover broken or missing will fail the entire unit).

HUD’s HQS Requirements

Most houses or apartments must have at least a living room, kitchen and bathroom. A one-room efficiency apartment with a kitchen area is all right. However, there must be a separate bathroom for the private use of the family within the apartment.

Generally, there must be one living/sleeping room for every two household members.

All rooms in the place you rent must have:

  • Ceilings in good condition. Not acceptable are large cracks or holes that allow drafts, severe bulging, large amounts of loose or falling surface material such as plaster.
  • Walls in good condition. Not acceptable are large cracks or holes that allow drafts, severe bulging or leaning, large amounts of loose or falling material such as plaster.
  • Floors that are in good condition. Not acceptable are large cracks or holes, missing or warped floor boards, covering that could cause someone to trip or soft/spongy underlayment.
  • Paint must be in good condition. Minimal peeling or chipping paint if you have children under the age of six and the place was built before 1978.
  • All doors and windows that can be reached from the outside, a common public hallway, a fire escape, porch or other outside place must have working locks. A window that cannot be opened is acceptable as a lockable window. Not acceptable are windows that are badly cracked, broken or missing panes and do not shut or when shut do not keep out the weather. Entrance doors that are not weather tight or have broken door frames and/or stricker plate damage.

In addition to these general requirements HQS looks at very specific items for each room which are:

Living Room

  • At least two electrical outlets, or one outlet and one permanent overhead light fixture. Not acceptable are table or floor lamps plugged into a socket and extension cords or power strips as they do not qualify as permanent; broken or frayed wiring; light fixtures hanging from wires with no firm support (such as a chain); missing cover plates on switches or outlets; badly cracked outlets.
  • There must be a least one window in good condition. Not acceptable windows that are badly cracked broken or missing panes, and windows that do not shut, or when shut, do not keep out weather.

Kitchen

  • Storage for food.
  • At least one working outlet and one permanently installed, working light fixture. Not acceptable criteria are same as listed in “Living Room” section.
  • Stove and oven. A stove (or range) and oven that works (can be supplied by tenant or landlord). In some cases, a microwave may be substituted for a stove (range) and oven. Not acceptable are hot plate in place of a stove.
  • Food preparation area either counter space or table top.
  • Food serving area such as a separate dining room or dining area in the kitchen or living room is all right.
  • Refrigerator that maintains a temperature so food does not spoil.
  • Sink with hot and cold running water and properly connected to an approved sewer system. A bathroom sink will not satisfy this requirement.

Bathroom

  • Ventilation by a window that opens to the outside or a vent fan vented to the attic or outside.
  • Flush toilet in proper working order and properly connected to an approved sewer system.
  • Tub or shower with hot and cold running water and properly connected to an approved sewer system.
  • At least one permanently installed ceiling or wall light fixture that works.
  • Sink with hot and cold running water and properly connected to an approved sewer system. A kitchen sink will not satisfy this requirement.

Other Rooms Used for Living (including bedrooms, dens, halls, finished basements or enclosed heated porches)

  • For bedrooms:
    • At least two electrical outlets, or one outlet and one permanent overhead light fixture. Not acceptable are table or floor lamps plugged into a socket and extension cords or power strips as they do not qualify as permanent; broken or frayed wiring; light fixtures hanging from wires with no firm support (such as a chain); missing cover plates on switches or outlets; badly cracked outlets.
    • At least one window, which must be openable if it was designed to open.
      • All other rooms used for living:
  • No specific standard for electricity, but there must be either natural illumination (a window) or

an electric light fixture or outlet.

Other Rooms Not Used for Living (including utility room, unfinished basement or enclosed unheated porches)

  • Will be checked for security and electrical hazards and other possible dangers, including unsafe stairways.

Building Exterior, Plumbing and Heating

The building must have:

  • Roof in good condition that does not leak. Gutters and downspouts are not required but, if present, must be in good condition and securely attached to the building.
  • Handrails secured and do not wiggle, on extended lengths of stairs, (generally four or more stairs not including landings) and any porches, balconies or decks which are 30 inches or more above the ground.
  • Siding and exterior walls in good condition with no large holes or cracks that would let a great amount of air inside.
  • Foundation in good condition that does not leak or have seriously bulging walls.
  • Water supply by connection to a plumbing system that is served by an approvable public or private supply system.
  • Sewage system connected to an approvable public or private sewage disposal system.
  • Chimney does not show any serious leaning or defects (such as big cracks or many missing bricks).
  • Paint in good condition with minimal cracking, peeling or chipping if there are children under the age of six and the place was built before 1978. This includes exterior walls, stairs, decks, porches, railings, windows, doors and entrance and hallway to apartment.
  • Cooling by windows that open or some working ventilation or cooling equipment that can provide circulation during warm months.
  • Plumbing in good condition with no leaks and no serious rust that causes the water to discolor.
  • Water heater located, equipped and installed in a safe manner, including a pipe on the pop-off value that extends to within 6 inches of the floor.
  • Heating equipment installed in a safe manner providing enough heat to maintain the unit at 68º F during the cold months. Not acceptable: space heaters (or room heaters) that burn oil, kerosene or gas and are not vented to a chimney. Space heaters that are vented may be acceptable if they can provide enough heat. Electric heaters are not acceptable as a main source of heat.

Health and Safety

The building and site must have:

  • Smoke detectors installed on each level of the unit, including the basement and in the sleeping area. If any member of the household is hearing impaired the smoke detector must have an alarm system designed for hearing-impaired persons.
  • Fire exit that provides an alternate means of leaving the unit in case of fire (such as the fire stairs or exit through windows, with the use of a ladder if windows are above the second floor).
  • Elevators must be safe and in proper working order.
  • Entrance to the unit from the outside or from a public hall so that it is not necessary to go through anyone else’s private apartment to get to your place.
  • Neighborhood must be free of dangerous places or spaces such as nearby buildings that are falling down, unprotected cliffs or quarries, fire hazards or evidence of flooding.
  • Garbage disposal containers such as covered cans or dumpsters. No large piles of trash and garbage inside or outside the unit or in the common areas such as hallways.
  • Lights that work in all common hallways and interior stairs.
  • Stair treads must be in good condition and handrails securely anchored.
  • Air quality must be good and free of serious air pollution, exhaust fumes or sewer gas.
  • No sign of rats or large number of mice or vermin (like cockroaches).
  • Mobile homes must be tied-down and free from hazards such as sliding or wind damage.

In Closing

After you have located a place to live you must submit the completed “Request For Tenancy Approval” form (that is in your packet) to SFHRC. This form notifies SFHRC of your intention to sign a Lease Agreement for the place you would like to rent with rental assistance. SFHRC will not evaluate a unit to determine if it meets HUD’s HQS unless and until it receives this completed form.

If the place meets HUD’s HQS SFHRC will enter into a Contract with the landlord to provide rental assistance which runs concurrently with the Lease Agreement you and the landlord sign.

If the place does not meet HUD’s HQS SFHRC will notify you and the landlord of the things that must be corrected in order for it meet HQS. If the landlord determines that he is unable or unwilling to correct the items you will be required to continue searching for a unit that will be suitable for your household and meets HUD’s HQS, or pay the entire rent yourself. SFHRC cannot provide rental assistance until it determines the unit meets HUD’s HQS.

If you experience a problem with the place you are renting, after you signed a Lease Agreement, there are actions you need to take according to South Dakota State Law. These actions need to be taken before contacting SFHRC about the problem. You must notify the landlord in writing of the repairs that need to be made and give the landlord a reasonable time to make the repair. Make sure you are specific about what needs repair and refer to the Lease Agreement or House Rules, if possible. You may need proof that you requested these repairs in case there is a dispute. It is best to send this notice by registered/certified mail. You should keep a copy of such correspondence.

If you have any questions regarding HUD’s HQS please contact SFHRC at 605/332.0704 phone, 605/332.0256 TDD or via e-mail: sfhrc@sfhrc.

Sioux Falls Housing & Redevelopment Commission

Equal Housing Opportunity

 


Sioux Falls Housing & Redevelopment Commission
630 S. Minnesota Ave
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-4825
Phone: (605) 332-0704 * Fax (605) 339-9305 * TTY: (605)332-0256