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Unit Inspections

Conducting regular unit inspections is an important part of a successful housing program. According to the [Landlord Engagement Toolkit](https://www.homelesshub.ca/sites/default/files/attachments/LANDLORD%20TOOLKIT_ENG_web.pdf), “Making sure units meet property standards and are in good condition is important for tenant health and wellbeing, and increases the chance that tenants will take good care of their home and pay their rent in full. Unit inspections show landlords that the program is serious and professional and has good values, which also improves the program’s reputation in the community. Move-in inspections, with photos or even room-by-room videos, can ensure that damage deposits are returned and the program is not charged for pre-existing damages. Unit inspection checklists and tools can help program providers and participants make informed renting decisions.” In addition to its utility in a Housing First context, unit inspections are often conducted regularly by landlords, and it would be beneficial to make HIFIS more useful for social housing landlords. Moreover, some subsidy programs require regular unit inspections as a condition of receiving financial assistance. Therefore, there would be value added both for caseworkers and program managers, but also for landlords, funders, and program participants if users could record unit inspections in HIFIS. Fortunately, there is an existing piece of HIFIS that we can leverage here. The “Status” field in the Housing Unit module includes an existing drop-down menu containing values such as “Excellent” or “In need of repair.” There is also a “Status Date” field.   An oddity of the Housing Unit module is that there are two status fields, one entitled “Status” and the other entitled “Occupancy Status.” The Status field, however, asks about the _condition_ of the unit. This situation is confusing to users. For clarification, we recommend relabelling the “Status” field to “Condition,” and that is the terminology we will be using from here on out. **Action Item UI-1: Relabel “Status” field on Add Housing Unit and Display Housing Unit screens to “Current Condition”** **Action Item UI-2: Relabel “Status Date” field on Add Housing Unit and Display Housing Unit screens to “Condition Date”** **Action Item UI-3: Relabel “Status” field in Housing Unit List filter to “Condition”** Currently, a history is stored of changes to the Condition field in the database. However, this information is not available to any end users of the software. It is proposed that a new tab be added to the Housing Unit, in addition to Details, Address, Photos, and Maintenance. This tab should be titled “Inspection History” and should display this history. **Action Item UI-4: Add “Inspection History” tab to Housing Unit module** **Action Item UI-5: Add corresponding rights to access Inspection History tab** Once the Inspection History tab exists, users should be able to go to that screen directly and to update the unit’s Condition. There is an issue present in many parts of HIFIS where in order to change one thing about a record, clients require rights to Edit the entire record, which is problematic. For example, in order to modify the end date of a Service Restriction, users need the ability to Edit all fields within the Service Restriction. In the context of Housing Units, because all fields are editable from the Edit screen, giving a user permission to change the Condition of a Housing Unit, they would also have the ability to change the Service Provider that owns the Housing Unit, or the Rent, or the Address, all of which would be extremely problematic. We are proposing that changes to the Condition be handled on a different screen than the Edit Housing Unit screen. This will require a new form, to “Add Unit Inspection.” The first change will be to move the Condition and Condition Date fields from the Edit Housing Unit screen to the Add Unit Inspection screen. **Action Item UI-6: Add “Add Unit Inspection” button to Inspection History tab in Housing Unit module** ![](https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/nOtxI5MFpzqCgdXsRNqDfJlW-QHYwdy5hHeiXCIF1lm0cAGrBUB3yzVXkP0FNe-oz-mZlkCGIDJSsjqEuS7cq2LjOyu6IDKUXJMGR87KVH28EJKfuU2l4wSCOxRTdVL5sjKl8lY-zFFJqnH1xup3lw) _Mock-up: Add Unit Inspection screen could look something like this_ **Action Item UI-7: Create a new “Add Unit Inspection” screen with the existing “Condition” and “Condition Date” fields** **Action Item UI-8: Remove “Condition” and “Condition Date” from the Edit Housing Unit screen** However, simply having a Condition and a Condition Date does not sufficiently capture data necessary for a unit inspection. A review of existing unit inspection resources reveals that most unit inspection forms are dozens if not hundreds of questions long, with attention to the smallest detail. Such a detailed checklist, however, wouldn’t necessarily meet the needs of users either, as many will find it too time consuming while others may be required to use a specific form. A happy medium is proposed: in addition to the Condition and Condition Date, add a generous Comments box as well as the ability to upload attachments. **Unit Inspections: Proposed Fields** | **ID** | **Field** | **Type** | **Mandatory?** | **Description** | | 1 | Housing Unit Record | Automatic | n/a | Automatically links to the current [Housing Unit Record](https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KW5rQWvcKFxpi-e1_Ox6cVXfHP1D66jXK-ZzxUjLVRA/edit#bookmark=id.glg1xt6gwk28) | | 2 | Client Housing Record | Special | n/a | Automatically links to the current [Client Housing Record](https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KW5rQWvcKFxpi-e1_Ox6cVXfHP1D66jXK-ZzxUjLVRA/edit#bookmark=id.w1dy9bs8od7f). If unoccupied (i.e. unit inspection is being conducted after move-out or prior to move-in), this field would be null. | | 3 | Condition | Single- select | Yes | Uses the existing House Status lookup table | | 4 | Condition Date | Date | Yes | Defaults to the current date. | | 5 | Inspected By | Single- select | Yes | Uses the User list; defaults to the current user. | | 6 | Comments | Text Area | No | Memo type field with rich text editor | | 7 | Inspection Checklist | Attachment | No | Intended to allow a user to upload a copy of a unit inspection checklist | | 8 | Unit Photos | Attachment | No | Unlike other attachment fields in HIFIS, this field should allow multiple attachments. Accepts only image files. | | 9 | Next Inspection Due | Date | No | | **Action Item UI-9: Add fields to Add Unit Inspection screen as per table above** The Inspection History tab should List the following fields: - Condition Date (Field 4) - Condition (Field 3) - “Tenant” which should indicate the name of the client in a linked Client Housing Record (Field 2), or be blank - Inspected By (Field 5) - “Checklist?” which should indicate with a checkmark or Yes/No whether there is an attachment in Inspection Checklist (Field 7) - “Photos?” which should indicate with a checkmark or Yes/No whether there is any attachment in Unit Photos (Field 8) **Action Item UI-10: Add list of fields to Inspection History tab as per list above** It would not be particularly helpful to list the “Next Inspection Due” for every row in a table indicating the history of Unit Inspections. Instead, it would be useful to display the most recent “Next Inspection Due” date (i.e. the date attached to the most recent Unit Inspection record) somewhere useful for staff. One option is to display the text “Next Inspection Due:” followed by this date on the Inspection History tab above the table of records. Another option would be to display the same information on the Housing Unit Details tab. **Action Item UI-11: Display the next upcoming “Next Inspection Due” date for a Housing Unit** HIFIS also includes a little-known feature that photos can be attached to a Housing Unit. This is rarely used, but has potential to be useful. It would be more useful if it was easier to add photos to that module. Therefore, it is recommended that photos from a Unit Inspection be added to the Photos tab of the Housing Unit. **Action Item UI-12: Add Unit Inspection photos automatically to the Photos tab of the Housing Unit**