Inspections & HQS Compliance
Part of NCCHA's mission is to ensure that the housing our clients occupy is safe, sanitary and decent. To accomplish that, we use inspections to verify that all units in our system meet the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The HQS code is amended within our jurisdiction by NCCHA's Administrative Plan to include certain items relevant to New Castle County's adopted property maintenance code (primarily the NCC requirement for smoke detectors on each level and in each sleeping area within a unit).
NCCHA performs three types of inspection:
- Initial/"Move-In" Inspections are completed before any NCCHA tenant occupies a new unit, to ensure it meets the standards.
- Regular/"Annual" Inspections are performed on every occupied unit in our system every 12-18 months and include a complete inspection of the unit.
- Compliance/"Special" Inspections are performed when prompted by tenant, landlord or other credible reports of HQS violations within the unit. These inspections focus on the reported issues, however inspectors will record and report any violation they notice while in the home.
When there are HQS violations within a unit, the landlord and tenant are notified and the responsible party(-ies) is given 30 days to correct the issue, after which the unit is re-inspected. Tenants who fail to correct damages for which they are responsible are referred to their caseworker for possible termination of their Voucher. Landlords who do not make repairs within 30 days potentially face Abatement (a non-refundable hold on NCCHA payment for the unit) and eventual lease termination.
Emergency "24-hour" violations are an exception, and must be corrected within 24 hours of documentation. If they are not, NCCHA proceeds immediately to abatement/referral/lease termination, as appropriate.
Helping Us Out In the Field...
NCCHA is currently working with McCright & Associates, an inspection contractor, whose inspectors are performing Annual Inspections in order to help with a backlog due to COVID-19. If you receive a letter from McCright bearing our name - "New Castle County Housing Authority" - it should be treated as if it from NCCHA directly.
Inspections performed by McCright all have an associated Event ID, listed on all correspondence, which can be used to look up scheduling info, results and more at results.mccright.com. Please note that McCright result letters describe the full course of action that NCCHA may take in the event of ongoing violations. However, all decisions regarding abatement and termination are made by NCCHA upon review of the results and the case.
When scheduling with McCright following no-shows or 2nd failed inspections, "Next Inspection Approval" may be required from NCCHA. To obtain approval, please email Matthew.Alexander@NewCastleDE.gov and include the Event ID associated with the inspection cycle, along with the reason for rescheduling.
Lead-Based Paint: Special Considerations
Lead poisoning has been shown over decades to be dangerous to the health and development in children. This led to the 1978 ban of lead-based paints in the united states. Many homes from before that year, however, still have lead paint, sometimes many layers under newer coats of paint. When these surfaces get worn, this can result in chipping and peeling paint, containing unsafe levels of lead, which are easy for small children to ingest. This is why the Lead-based paint (LBP) issue is a special consideration during inspection of homes built before 1978.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development offers detailed guidance regarding the history and dangers of lead-based paint, how those dangers are guarded against in properties that receive federal funds, and what owners can and must do to remediate the problem and certify the safety of their units. This process, called LBP Remediation and Certification, is described here on the HUD website.
New Castle County's own Lead Reduction and Healthy Homes Program is also a great resource that property owners can sign up with for guidance and assistance getting homes LBP certified.