HUD published the new final National Standards for Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) physical inspection Standards notice in the Federal Register on June 22, including a link to 295 pages of detailed “inspectable items.” The Standards notice is similar to a final rule’s preamble; it summarizes comments made by the public, along with HUD’s responses, to a draft set of NSPIRE Standards published on June 17, 2022 (see Memo, 6/27/22). HUD will update these Standards at least once every three years, publishing a notice in the Federal Register with an opportunity for public comment. The new Standards take effect July 1, 2023.
Each NSPIRE Standard contains: a definition of the standard; its location (in a unit, in a non-residential part of a building, or outside a building); the nature of a potential deficiency and the criteria for determining whether a deficiency exists; the health and safety determination (life-threatening, severe, moderate, or low – as defined in the final rule); the required timeframe to correct a deficiency; and “rationales,” the reason a requirement is necessary, describing the potential harm that could result from a given deficiency if left uncorrected. For HCV, each standard also indicates whether the standard passes or fails.
HUD issued final overall NSPIRE regulations on May 11, 2023 (see Memo, 5/15). The final Standards notice, along with a Scoring notice, and an Administrative notice supplement the final rule. The intent of issuing the three notices instead of incorporating their content in regulation is to enable HUD to more readily provide updates as appropriate. A proposed Scoring notice was published for comment on March 28 (see Memo 4/3) and an Administrative notice is anticipated shortly, although it will not be subject to public comment.
Major changes from the draft Standards, according to HUD’s media release on June 15, include:
- Requiring carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in compliance with the 2018 International Fire Code.
- Setting minimum temperature requirements during the colder months and requiring a permanent heating source.
- Including criteria for determining when guardrails and handrails are required.
- Establishing infestation deficiencies based on discrete levels of observations with clarification on citable pests.
- Developing deficiencies based on observed mold conditions or elevated moisture levels measured using a moisture meter.
- Including a deficiency for an enhanced visual assessment for deteriorated paint in units where children under six years of age reside to document potential lead-based paint hazards.
- Including affirmative habitability requirements for bathrooms, kitchens, and other rooms use by residents.
The final Standards will provide a unified inspection protocol for public housing, Housing Choice Vouchers, and the programs administered by HUD’s Office of Multifamily Housing Programs (Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, and FHA Insured multifamily housing). Programs administered by HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (CPD) are not subject to the Standards in the final notice – with one exception – the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program must comply with the NSPIRE Standards for carbon monoxide detection installation.
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: 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 will commence on July 1, 2023, for public housing and 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).
The final Standards notice is at: https://tinyurl.com/zyaksbsh
An easier to read preview version of the final NSPIRE physical inspection Standards notice is at: https://tinyurl.com/59wh2k3y
The 295-page list and description of NSPIRE Inspectable Items is at: https://tinyurl.com/37mraxj8
HUD’s NSPIRE website is 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.