HUD posted the Administrative Procedures joint Notice PIH 2023-16/H 2023-07 on June 30, one of three documents supplementing the final rule implementing the new National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE). The Notice provides guidance primarily for those responsible for implementing the physical inspection protocols required by the final NSPIRE rule. Resident leaders and advocates will likely benefit from familiarity with its content, much of which is similar to the final rule. Section 11 of the Notice outlines the very minimal provisions regarding resident organizations’ opportunity to recommend five units for inspection. The Administrative Notice is not subject to public review and comment; however, the Notice states that HUD will accept comments and consider them for future revisions.
NSPIRE is replacing HUD’s former physical inspections standards, the Uniform Physical Conditions Standards (UPCS) and Housing Quality Standards (HQS). HUD published final overall NSPIRE regulations on May 11, 2023 (see Memo, 5/15). Of the three supplemental notices, HUD also published the final physical Standards notice, along with a link to 295 pages of detailed “inspectable items,” on June 22 (see Memo, 6/26). A proposed Scoring notice was published for comment on March 28 (see Memo 4/3); a final Scoring notice is anticipated shortly. The intent of issuing the three notices instead of incorporating their content in regulations is to enable HUD to more readily provide updates as appropriate.
The final NSPIRE rule at §5.705(f) allows residents to recommend units to be inspected in addition to units randomly selected by official inspectors. The rule states that the resident-selected units will not be considered when determining a property’s NSPIRE score. A public housing agency (PHA) or HUD-assisted private property owner or agent (POA) must still correct any deficiencies detected at resident-recommended units.
Section 11 (page 17) of the Administrative Notice establishes the procedures for carrying out 24 CFR §5.705(f). Approximately 180 days before a property’s inspection, “resident groups” are invited to identify units they would like to be added to the official inspection process. An NSPIRE electronic system will randomly select “up to” five of the units recommended by a resident organization to be added to those the NSPIRE system already randomly chose for formal inspection. An NSPIRE inspector will conduct a physical inspection of the five resident-recommended units to identify any Life-Threatening, Severe, Moderate, or Low deficiencies (as described in the final NSPIRE Standards Notice). The NSPIRE scores of the five resident-recommended units will not be considered toward a property’s official score unless any of the resident-recommended units were also randomly selected among the units in the HUD-generated NSPIRE inspection sample.
Approximately 15 days after the inspection, HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) office will provide a property’s inspection report to residents (as required in the final rule at §5.711(h)(2)), as well as to the HUD Field Office, PHA, or private owner. Any deficiencies cited at the resident-recommended units must be corrected within the timeframes established in the final NSPIRE Standards Notice: 24 hours for any Life-Threatening or Severe deficiencies, 30 days for Moderate deficiencies, and 60 days for Low deficiencies. In between NSPIRE inspections, HUD encourages residents to “quickly” report hazards or defects to their landlord, property owner, manager, PHA contact, or PHA Board of Commissioners.
Section 7b of the Administrative Notice (page 8) states that in advance of a scheduled inspection, PHAs or POAs must notify all residents that their property will be inspected, as described in the final rule at §5.711(h)(1) and the lease. The Administrative Notice suggests that at least seven days of advance notice be provided and that notice be provided using multiple communication methods, such as paper notices, email, text messages, and notices posted on doors, in halls, and on community bulletin boards. HUD reminds PHAs (but does not mention POAs) that all materials, notices, and communications regarding the inspections must be clearly communicated and provided in a manner that is effective for persons with hearing, visual, and other communications-related disabilities consistent with Section 504 of the “Rehabilitation Act” and Titles II and III of the “Americans with Disabilities Act” (ADA).
NSPIRE seeks to strengthen HUD’s physical condition standards and improve HUD oversight. The NSPIRE standards are meant to align and consolidate the two sets of physical inspection regulations (contained mostly at 24 CFR part 5) used to evaluate HUD housing across multiple programs: the Housing Quality Standards (HQS) and Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS). NSPIRE physical inspections will focus on three areas: the housing units where HUD-assisted residents live, elements of their buildings’ non-residential interiors, and the exteriors of buildings, ensuring that components of these three areas are “functionally adequate, operable, and free of health and safety hazards.” The new inspection protocol commenced on July 1, 2023, for public housing and will begin on October 1, 2023, for the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program, the various programs administered by HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs, and the housing programs overseen by HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD).
Read the NSPIRE Administrative Procedures Notice PIH 2023-16/H 2023-07 at: https://tinyurl.com/5c7ce3pp
Visit HUD’s NSPIRE website at: https://bit.ly/2V9qvV3
More information about all HUD programs subject to the new NSPIRE rule is available in NLIHC’s 2023 Advocates’ Guide.