Homeowner Improvement Code Compliance Program
Home Improvement Code Compliance Program
Guidelines and Procedures
Applicable to all housing programs
The following guidelines and procedures are established for the purpose of carrying out the housing rehabilitation program as established and funded by Federal, State and local sources.
1. Purpose of Grant
A housing rehabilitation grant shall be made to low or very low-income resident owners for the purpose of housing rehabilitation. The potential recipient must own (fee simple title or 99-year leasehold) and reside in the single-family dwelling unit to be rehabilitated and the dwelling unit must be located within Upper Darby Township. All obligations in terms of taxes and other fees due to all governmental agencies must be current. The Township will not accept a mortgage position less than second. The property must be used for residential purposes; that is, any non-residential use of the property must be only incidental. The potential recipient must enter into a written agreement with Upper Darby Township, to bring the house into compliance with the “Rehabilitation Standard” as listed in #2 of these Guidelines and Procedures. (The grant is not intended to be used for "cosmetic" items in a home, e.g. wallpapering, carpeting, kitchen/bath, remodeling, etc.)
2. Rehabilitation Standards
The rehabilitation standards shall consist of the Township Building and Zoning Codes, Property Maintenance and Related Codes as adopted by the Township, and the Lead-Based Paint Hazard regulations (24 CFR Part 35) and accessibility requirements.
3. Maximum Grant
The actual amount of the grant shall be dependent upon the amount of work performed; that is to say, the grant amount shall not exceed the actual amount paid to contractors on behalf of the homeowner to address the code items that were cited in the general and lead work specifications. The grant, up to $15,000, shall be subject to recapture in the event of the sale, transfer of title or rental of the property within five (5) years of the date of the filing of the lien. The amount of the recapture of funds shall decrease 20% annually, so that at the end of the fifth year, no funds up to $15,000 shall be repayable. Amounts over the first $15,000 but less than $25,000 stay as a lien on the property for an additional five year period or until the property is sold, the title transferred or there is a rental (before the expiration of 10 years), at which point they are subject to recapture. Please note that amounts over the first $15,000 do not decrease or disappear until 10 years have passed. (The ten and five year periods will run concurrently.) It shall not bear interest. If the owner receiving the grant continues to own and reside in the property for the ten years following the filing of the lien agreement, nothing of the amount between $15,000 and $25,000 needs to be repaid and is completely forgiven at the end of 10 years.
If the amount needed to bring the home into full code compliance exceeds $25,000, upon approval by the Township, the additional funds needed will be included in the grant, and the amount exceeding $25,000 will remain as a lien against the property and does not decrease or disappear and will be subject to repayment when the property is sold or there is a title transfer or rental.
The amount of a grant in excess of $25,000 shall remain until sale/transfer at which time it must be repaid. The grant recapture will become payable upon any transfer of the property including transfer to family members or upon the death of the original applicant(s) or rental to anyone, including family members.
Repayment, if necessary, of the grant will be guaranteed by a lien placed on the property. If the grant is in excess of $15,000, the amounts over $15,000 up to $25,000 shall stay as a lien for ten (10) years; if grant is in excess of $25,000, a lien shall stay on the property until sale/transfer for such amount over $25,000. All other conditions are the same.
There is also a standard under the HOME program only that when the contemplated rehabilitation work is completed, the market value may not exceed the maximum as set by the State.
4. Minimum Grant
No work may be undertaken unless a minimum of $1,000 of work is required.
5. Application Process
Any low or very low-income homeowner in Upper Darby Township may apply directly to the Township for inclusion in this program, so long as the applicant meets the income eligibility criteria of the program. Homeowners who have previously received assistance under the Home Improvement Code Compliance Program may not reapply for assistance until ten (10) years have passed from the time of the initial grant. Homeowners who have received in excess of $25,000 are not eligible to reapply for assistance. Homeowners who have received assistance under the Township’s First Time Homebuyer Program may not apply for assistance under this program until five (5) years have passed from the date of the grant for that assistance. Income limits are not set by the Township, but are instead established by the U. S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. They change from year to year and are based upon family size. Application forms may be obtained from the Township. Homeowners are responsible to submit the initial application. Upon receipt of the application, it will be reviewed by staff. If it appears as though the Homeowner is financially eligible, the application will be assigned the next sequential waiting list number and the Homeowner will be notified. When the Homeowner rises to the top of the list, they will be sent a notification letter, a more detailed eligibility determination will be completed and an interview will be scheduled.
At this interview, the staff meets with the Homeowner and discusses the program guidelines and procedures. They will explain in detail the actual process of rehabilitation, including the terms of the lien, inspections, bidding process and contractor's payments along with the expected time limits for the complete process. The Homeowner should, at this time, give the names of any contractor(s) he/she is familiar with and whom they would like to have bid on their home. These contractors will be contacted by staff and given the opportunity to submit a Contractor's Qualification Statement. Should they be found qualified, they will be placed on the approved contractors list and be given the opportunity to bid on the work.
- Copy of the deed
- Copy of their Homeowner's Insurance Policy. If they do not have one, they should be instructed to obtain one. If the property is within the flood plain, flood insurance will also be required.
- Proof of income by signed income tax forms for previous year with all attachments or copies of year end social security statement, 1099s, or Department of Public Assistance payment determination. This is needed for all residents of the house (e.g., adults, children, etc.), as well as for all persons whose name appears on the deed, even if they do not reside in the home.
All income is subject to verification, and eligibility shall be based on the income for the preceding annual period.
- The staff will request a title report from a title company and will prepare its analysis of applicant's eligibility for the program. A grant will not be made if the title search shows any unpaid Township and/or County taxes until these amounts have been paid in full, or if the total current mortgages and liens against the property exceed a debt to value ratio that enables the Township to secure their interest in the property.
- The completed Employment and Banking Verification forms and the Financial Statement that were provided in the notification letter.
- All other forms completed that were provided in the start up package sent by the Township.
The following documentation will be requested from the Homeowner:
6. Income and Asset Eligibility
A homeowner whose household income does not exceed 80% of the median income for the Philadelphia MSA, as published annually in the Federal Register, will be eligible for participation (as long as they are otherwise eligible). All persons living in the property will be considered as part of the household for purposes of determining household income. The income of any person, whose name appears on the deed, even if they do not live at the property, must also be provided and taken into consideration, as they will also benefit from any improvement to the property. Income will be calculated in accordance with 24 CFR Part 813.
In addition, the owner(s) / occupant(s) may not have any ownership interest in any non-contiguous real property other than the real property being rehabilitated or any income producing real property. This would make the homeowner ineligible to receive assistance.
7. Grantee Notification
When eligibility has been determined, a letter will be sent informing the Homeowner applicant of the findings of the financial investigation along with the Administrative Agreement Form for review and completion by the Homeowner. This signed form authorizes the Township to enter into contracts on your behalf for the required professional services for your project, i.e. Title Search, Lead Based Paint testing, etc. By signing this form you are making a commitment to either take this project through to completion, or to repay the Township for any payments made on your behalf should you withdraw from the program for any reason. The costs for these services will be included in the grant, as outlined on the Administrative Agreement form. (At this time, the applicant becomes known as a "Grantee," meaning a person(s) receiving a grant.) The Grantee shall keep the Township advised of any material change in the income or family size. All steps in the financial processing up to this point should be recorded in the Grantee’s file.
8. Responsibility of Grant Recipient or Applicant
Each Grantee is obligated to assume the following responsibilities:
- Agree to actively participate
- Allow reasonable inspection in order to determine work requirements
- Carefully review the Scope of Work provided by the Township and prior to the start of the bidding process resolve any questions, discrepancies and/or omissions
- Select contractor(s) and participate in the bidding process
- Insure that contractors have unimpeded access within the house to areas to be rehabilitated.
- Allow contractors reasonable access to do the work and provide utilities without cost
- Secure reasonable satisfaction with contractor performance
9. Determination of Scope of Work
It shall be the responsibility of the Township to determine the total amount of work to be undertaken within the single family dwelling unit based upon its inspection and the inspection of the certified lead contractor. The inspection processes of the Township shall be utilized in preparing a written Scope of Work and contract specifications.
Note: NO PROGRAM FUNDS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR NON-CODE COMPLIANCE IMPROVEMENTS.
Under no circumstances shall improvements be made for remodeling, cosmetic improvements, or to purchase appliances. If a detached building such as a garage is in such a poor and hazardous condition that it is beyond repair, it will be demolished. A new unit will not be built by the Township.
Under the broad general guidelines, the Program staff will make determinations on eligibility of improvements. Extraordinary situations that may come to light as a result of property inspection will be referred to the Director of Licenses & Iinspection for review.
In the event the funds provided under this program are not sufficient to bring the building into compliance with the Local Codes and Ordinances, Federal Lead-Based Paint Regulations, Federal accessibility requirements (if applicable), and further, that funds necessary to complete the work in order to comply cannot be provided by the owner. Upon approval by the Township, the additional funds needed will be included in the grant.
10. Preliminary Inspection
The preliminary inspection will be set up with the Grantee to determine the work requirements after the initial interview and eligibility determination. Inspections will be done during normal business hours.
11. Lead Based Paint
Federal law requires the testing and remediation of Lead-Based Paint hazards in any home receiving Federal or State funding assistance.
The receipt of EPA Booklet, "Protect your Family from Lead in your Home", should be signed by the Grantee and the receipt placed in the file. A Lead-Based Paint test and risk assessment will be performed by an insured, qualified testing agency. Lead-Based Paint remediation will be completed as required by law by qualified abatement contractors. The testing agency will be responsible to determine the Scope of Work, prepare the specifications, monitor the work as it is ongoing, and approve the work upon completion. The Homeowner will be provided with a copy of the Lead-Based Paint test results and Scope of Work.
12. Written Scope of Work
The written Scope of Work will be prepared by the Township. This Scope of Work will include all improvements necessary to bring the property into compliance with the codes as cited under Section 2 Rehabilitation Standards.
A specification for each work item will be written by the Township and be included as a part of the Scope of Work above.
13. Grantee's Scope of Work Review
The Scope of Work should be sent to the Grantee to review prior to bidding. Approval of the Homeowner is necessary before the work can go out to bid. It is the responsibility of the Homeowner to thoroughly review the Scope of Work to be sure that all problems have been addressed and/or to ask any questions about any item which does not seem clear, accurate, necessary, etc. The Township inspectors will review any comments and if appropriate and consistent with the Rehabilitation Standards outlined in #2, make any necessary revisions. The Township inspectors have the final authority in determining the work that is required and eligible. Once the work has been sent out to bid there will be no changes made to the Scope of Work unless it is deemed necessary by the Township. Homeowners will also be given a list of contractors from which to choose. They must select at least three eligible general and lead based paint contractors to bid on their work and they must return their selections in writing along with their approval of the work list within two (2) weeks of receipt of this information. If the Homeowner does not respond in a timely manner, they may be removed from the program.
14. Bid Package
The Scope of Work is now ready to be sent out to bid to the contractors selected by the Homeowners. A two-week period should be allowed for the bid opening date. Contractors wishing to place a bid must contact the Homeowner and schedule an inspection prior to submitting a bid. It is the Homeowner’s responsibility to be flexible and cooperative in scheduling these inspections.
15. Bid Opening
The Township will open all bids that are received by the date and time stated on the bid cover letter at the close of that business day and/or no later than the next business day. Any bids received after the stated time will be marked void with the reason for voiding and placed in the file. A record of the bid opening shall be kept.
16. Bid Review
The bids will be reviewed by the Township Staff within one week of receipt and opening. All bidding contractors shall be notified of the bid results immediately.
17. Grant Award to Homeowner
If the total of the low bids plus other soft costs exceeds $25,000.00 the Township will make a decision as to the grant award based on the bids, Scope of Work and the value of the property and debt to value ratio.
18. Grantee Notification - Bid Results
The Homeowner (Grantee) shall be notified in writing of the bid results. The Township will pay up to the amount of the lowest responsible bid in each category when work is actually and satisfactorily performed. The Homeowner will be sent a form to complete for bid acceptance. Again, timely review and acceptance by the Homeowner is vital, therefore, a two week deadline will be set.
19. Contract and Grant Document Preparation and Signatures
A contract will be prepared between the Homeowner (Grantee) and the contractors. A grant agreement will be prepared between the Homeowner (Grantee) and the Township, granting the funds and outlining the terms of the agreement.
The staff will meet with the Homeowner(s), the contract and grant documents will be signed and any questions answered at the time of signing. The contract documents should also be fully completed and executed by the contractors and the Township prior to the time of signing.
Copies of the completed contract documents will be given to the grantee, the contractor(s) and the Township staff for processing. The lien will be filed upon completion of all work and payment of all invoices. The lien period will begin at that time, not at the time of the contract signing.
20. Work Start-up and Progress Inspections
Once the fully executed contract has been sent to the contractor, work should be scheduled. (Note: he/she may not start for at least three (3) days following signing of the contract. This delay allows the Homeowner to change his/her mind in accordance with Pennsylvania law.) The contractor(s) must obtain all applicable permits in order to be issued a Notice to Proceed. In starting the work, the contractor should make arrangements with the Grantee as to the actual day he/she expects to start, notifying the Township of the same. Under normal circumstances, contractors have forty five (45) days to complete the work.
If lead remediation work is being completed, contractors have seven (7) days to complete the work. Generally, this work must be done in conjunction with the general construction work, therefore, coordination is required between the two contractors and the Township staff. No work should be started by the lead contractors until the general contractor has all materials on site for replacement. Homeowners should not be on site during the working hours while this work is underway.
After work has started, the Rehabilitation Inspector should make periodic visits to monitor progress and to observe that the project is proceeding in accordance with the Scope of Work.
The Homeowner is also responsible to provide clear access to all work areas, to cooperate in scheduling the work, to monitor the work progress and to ensure that the work items outlined in the Scope of Work are being completed in accordance with the specifications and to notify the Township of any problems that arise.
21. Change Orders
During the course of work and progress inspections, it may be necessary to perform additional work that was hidden or not an existing problem during the initial inspection and write-up, or delete work that is not necessary. A Change Order delineates any modification to the Scope of Work. A Change Order must be executed for any deviation, addition or deletion made to the original job specification. Since Change Orders add to the administrative costs of the job and also are a possible cause of program abuse, they should be considered carefully and kept at a minimum. Only those changes necessary for proper job completion should be considered. Should the need for a Change Order arise, the following steps should be taken:
- The contractor must notify the Township of a problem which requires additional work beyond the contract specifications, or a deletion of work.
- The Inspector will inspect the property to determine if the request is justified, and
- Obtain a price for the corrective/deleted work from the contractor. If the price is reasonable, based on the Inspector’s and Program Supervisor’s experience, a Change Order should be prepared. It should also be determined if additional time will be needed to complete the work and the time extension should be included in the Change Order.
The Change Order should be filled out in detail with all amounts and details of the proposed change to the Scope of Work. The completed Change Order should be signed by the Supervisor, Inspector, the contractor and the Grantee.
22. Progress Payment
Progress or partial payments may be made at the discretion of the Township.
Contractors invoices must be submitted to the Township and an inspection will be scheduled. No payment will be made for any work item that is not completed and approved by the Township Inspector.
23. Certificate of Final Inspection
Upon notification from the contractor that the work is complete, the Township Inspector will perform a final inspection. A punch list of incomplete work will be prepared, if necessary.
When all work is found to be satisfactory, the Grantee (owner), the contractor, and the Inspector will sign a certificate of final inspection. Approval may not be unreasonably withheld. The final inspection sign off will constitute authorization for preparation of the payment check to the contractor. The Grantee may not unreasonably withhold signature. In the event of a dispute, the Inspector’s determination shall be final and binding.
If lead remediation is completed, the contractor must notify the staff that a final clearance by the certified lead contractor is required. Payment will not be made until clearance has been achieved in accordance with the federal regulations. Lead abatement contractors will be responsible for any additional clearance charges should the property not pass the first inspection. This amount will be deducted from their project invoice.
24. Punch List
If necessary, a punch list or list of work items that need to be corrected will be prepared by the Inspector and sent to the contractor before final payment is made. The contractor should notify the Inspector when the punch list items have been corrected and the property is ready for final inspection.
25. Final Payment
Once final payment is made, the job is considered complete. The lien or mortgage is filed and the file stored.
Note:Final payment does not relieve the contractor from the responsibility to correct any condition not evident at final inspection or which occurs within the warranty period. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to contact the contractor.
The Homeowner is responsible for maintaining the improvements in good order and for any and all routine maintenance that is required following completion of the work.
26. Project Evaluation
Evaluation of the staff, the program and the contractors that perform work for the rehabilitation program is important. Upon completion of the project the Homeowner will be sent a copy of the "Project Evaluation Form by the Homeowner" along with an addressed and stamped envelope that can be used to return the form to the Township. The homeowner’s participation in this evaluation is optional.
27. Contractor Information
In order for a contractor to be added to the approved bidders list for the program, they must fill out a "Contractor Qualification Statement". All information should be verified by the staff and an evaluation of the suitability of the contractor for the program should be performed. This information will be retained on file for each contractor who has applied or is doing work for the program. A certificate of insurance showing that the Township’s set limits are met or exceeded and Workers’ Compensation is in place must also be provided to the Township at this time and updated annually.
28. Program and Progress Reports
Progress reports will be prepared by the staff and submitted to the Program Supervisor on a monthly basis.
29. Lien or Mortgage Filing
Upon final payment to all contractors on the Grantee’s behalf, the lien or mortgage will be filed by the staff at the Delaware County Courthouse. The Homeowner will be provided a close out package at the same time, providing them copies of all invoices, warranty information and contact information for their contractors.
30. Complaint Procedure
Any individual may choose to file a complaint concerning the Township Home Improvement Code Compliance Program or the work performed under this program at their property. Complaints should be forwarded to: The Director of Licenses & Inspection, 100 Garrett Road, Upper Darby, PA 19082. The complaint should contain the following information:
- The name and signature of the complainant.
- The address to which the Township's response should be mailed.
- A telephone number where the complainant, or an individual knowledgeable about the substance of the complaint, can be reached during daytime hours.
- The nature of the complaint, including any relevant information or documentation.
- A recommendation concerning how the complainant wishes to have the matter resolved.
The Township will make every reasonable effort to provide a written response to a complainant within fifteen (15) days of its receipt or, if the complaint is about work presently occurring at a property, an "action" response within two (2) days of receipt of notice, followed up by a written response will occur. The Township will indicate its position on the matter and the action it proposes to take. The Township will not be obligated, however, to respond to any anonymous or fictitious complaints.
The Township's lien/mortgage interest in a property may be subordinated ONLY in the event of a refinancing, in order to lower interest rates and monthly mortgage payments, with prior consent of the Township. In no event will the Township subordinate if there is cash being taken out either directly or to pay other creditors. The Township's subordinated position will be no less than its original mortgage position, e.g., if the Township was originally in place as a second-position mortgagee, it may subordinate to a new first mortgage as stated in Paragraph 1. All taxes and fees due to all governmental agencies must be current. The Township will not subordinate to a position lower than its original position in any event. The subordination is subject to the interests of the Township being protected and as such, the loan-to-value ratio of all liens/mortgages may not exceed 85% of value.