As of July 1st, public housing inspections in the United States have changed. The department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a new law which brings stricter public housing inspection standards for all HUD housing projects.
HUD secretary Marcia L. Fudge said the new standards are intended to address substandard public housing units, as well as improve health and safety conditions in HUD homes. The rules fall under the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE).
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What are the new HUD housing regulations?
The NSPIRE regulations are designed to implement stricter standards for HUD housing, as well as to make regulation easier for officials. The July 1st decision is only the first phase of new regulations – several other programs will migrate to NSPIRE in October 2023, including the Housing Choice Voucher programs, Multifamily Housing programs, and Community Planning and Development programs.
The new home inspection policies streamline existing legislation, consolidating and aligning 14 sets of regulations. Previous housing standards like UPCS and HQS will be retired. The new rules and revisions come from feedback given when the rule was proposed.
The new HUD inspection rules include:
- Self-inspections: All public housing authorities or property owners are now required to inspect their units annually, and record any flaws they find. If their property scores below a 60 during an HUD inspection, they will need to provide HUD with self-inspection records.
- Stricter timelines: In case an inspection reveals issues with HUD housing that are deemed life-threatening or severe, property owners will have to address the issue quickly. NSPIRE requires these kinds of issues to be addressed within 24 hours, and proof of the correction to be sent in within 72 hours.
- Affirmative standards: NSPIRE includes a set of HUD low-income housing requirements called “affirmative standards”, which include things like functional kitchens, flushing toilets, and safe drinking water.
- Tenant involvement: One crucial change to HUD homes is the inclusion of tenants in the inspection process. Tenants living in a unit can recommend that their property be inspected, in addition to the normal inspection requirements. Then, they are required to have access to the results.
These and other new regulations, like mandating the use of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms, are designed to make HUD housing safer for tenants, while still keeping the properties affordable. Further efforts to improve home inspection services include requiring post-inspection reports and revising the way violations are classified.
How can you comply with the HUD housing regulations?
HUD’s shift to NSPIRE brings with it a lot of changes that are essential for you to understand as a public housing provider. The way you conduct housing inspections and the things you’re required to ensure have become more standardized. As a first step to understanding your obligations, you can watch the ”Understanding NSPIRE” webinar for an overview of all the changes and how they will affect your property.
There is a long list of areas and appliances in your rental property that you will need to inspect, in and around the apartment. NSPIRE’s list of the things you’re responsible for maintaining is divided according to where on the property is is.
The majority of NSPIRE standards apply to things inside apartment units, such as electrical wiring, fire extinguishers, kitchens, floors and ceilings, or chimneys. You’re also responsible for inspecting parts of the building outside of individual rooms. It’s important that you make sure building infrastructure like elevators works properly, and that your building has proper signage indicating the exits.
Keeping the interiors and exteriors of your HUD low-income housing units clean and up to code is a matter of being thorough and referring back to the new standards to make sure you are compliant. Another stated goal of NSPIRE is to make inspections easier and faster, by transitioning away from physical paper checklists.
Digital inspections don’t just save time, they also make the process more flexible. When the inspection process is electronic, you can perform inspections on the go more easily, as well as do a more accurate job. Digitizing your inspections make it easier to include pictures and other housing inspection evidence, which come in handy when preparing post-inspection reports.
As a property owner or manager, you can optimize your home inspection services by following NSPIRE’s recommendations for electronic assessments and reports, and by familiarizing yourself with the various areas of HUD housing that have received new quality standards.