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The Authority did not maintain housing inspection reports.

The audit found WHA could not ensure units met safety and sanitary standards because annual inspection reports were not on file.

Table of Contents

Overview

During our audit period, the Authority did not have DHCD-required annual inspection reports on file for several housing units. When units are not regularly inspected, there is inadequate assurance that they conform to state and local minimum standards for safe and sanitary housing.

Specifically, we sampled the same 25 units for each fiscal year of the audit period and found the following:

  • For fiscal year 2014, 18 units did not have inspection reports on file.
  • For fiscal year 2015, 10 units did not have inspection reports on file.
  • For fiscal year 2016, 5 units did not have inspection reports on file.

Authoritative Guidance

Chapter 3 of DHCD’s Property Maintenance Guide states,

To insure comprehensive accountability and efficient maintenance work scheduling, every inspection should result in a written report that documents, by specific location, the condition of every component. . . inspected. . . .

At least once a year every LHA dwelling unit should be systematically observed by carefully oriented inspectors.

Reasons for Noncompliance

The Authority has not established any written policies and procedures for unit inspections. In addition, the Authority has undergone significant employee turnover that, according to Authority officials, has made it unable to perform timely inspections of all of its units.

Recommendations

  1. The Authority should establish policies and procedures for its unit inspection process.
  2. The Authority should establish monitoring controls over the inspection process to ensure that its staff consistently adheres to the policies and procedures.
  3. The Authority should retain copies of all inspection reports in its files.

Auditee's Response

In 2014, there were 18 missing inspection reports, in 2015 there were 10 missing inspection reports, and in 2016 there were 5 missing inspection reports. The WHA is trending in the right direction here. Units must be inspected each year and in a number of instances where they were not done, any number of reasons may have played a role. In 2014 heading into 2015 the Greater Boston area was inundated with copious amounts of snow and ice; which necessitated the maintenance staff perform snow removal duties. In certain instances, residents will attempt to avoid the annual inspection for whatever reason (illegal occupants, hoarding, poor housekeeping etc.). The WHA encountered unanticipated employee turnover, which at times made it difficult to follow up on the inspections that were missed. The staff at the Housing Authority always tries to accommodate residents as much as possible; and I am happy to report that we obtained 100% resident inspections for 2017. Unit inspections are covered as part of resident’s lease. The leasing staff has been educated that all inspection reports must be maintained in the resident’s file.

Auditor's Reply

Based on the Authority’s comments, it has taken some measures to address our concerns in this area. However, we again recommend that it establish a policy that details the inspection process, the employee/s responsible for the inspections, and the management oversight of the process. Inspections are key to identifying conditions in each housing unit and can be used for prioritizing maintenance work, monitoring tenant activities, and identifying future equipment needs. The policy should also ensure that unit inspections are completed annually and all inspection reports are maintained in the tenant’s folder. 

Date published: May 30, 2018
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