November 12, 2013

Keeping Up With Compliance in Rental Housing

VHDA’s mission is to help Virginians attain quality, affordable housing, but affordable housing doesn’t mean that safety and security can be left lacking. To that end, our Rental Housing Division has a team of internally-trained Asset Managers and Compliance Officers who focus on identifying and correcting issues found at properties in which VHDA has an active interest. This process is based in a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program requirement for reporting to the IRS. But for VHDA, it also means watching out for the Commonwealth and its communities.

VHDA’s Asset Managers and Compliance Officers are assigned portfolios located in different regions. Each portfolio contains a number of properties associated with VHDA according to funding or other considerations. The Compliance and Asset Management staff makes scheduled and unscheduled visits to properties to make inspections for safety, environmental or other compliance concerns. If deficiencies are identified, they will make recommendations, although the main objective is to use this information to assign a “risk rating” to the property.

What kind of deficiencies? You name it, they’ve probably seen it. “We’ve found exposed electrical wiring, bedbugs, parking lot concrete sinkholes, rotted wood, mold, missing smoke detectors, water leaks and numerous other structural, health and safety issues… things clearly making these locations unsafe, or potentially unsafe, for residents,” said Senior Asset Manager Hank Mattox. 

In addition to acting as a property inspector, Mattox has spoken to numerous property management and other industry groups explaining why VHDA performs these inspections, and what kind of trouble they can uncover. “Our mission is to promote healthy and safe affordable housing. It’s important to us to show VHDA has a vested interest in these properties along with our owner/developers and management companies. It’s in everyone’s interests that they’re maintained to standards and safe to live in, otherwise we’re not fulfilling our mission.”

Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS), a series of industry-standard defect definitions, are used to determine the condition of a property’s site, each building’s exterior, each building’s system, all of the units and all common areas. Using the UPCS provides a standardized, consistent assessment and scoring system for every inspection and enables VHDA to provide the same level of oversight from property to property. The inspection is designed to ensure the properties in our portfolio are being maintained to VHDA standards, as well as providing safe, affordable housing for residents.

VHDA’s inspectors see their job not as going out to find problems to penalize. Rather, the intent is to find risks and provide guidance on correcting them before they become costly problems that inconvenience or displace residents. For more details about VHDA’s Compliance and Asset Management team and the inspection process, contact Jeremy Kahl, Regional Portfolio Manager for VHDA’s Rental Housing Division.
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