HUD Requests Additional Comments on NSPIRE Implementation

Regulation | June 23, 2022 | by Juliana Bilowich

Additional public comment on new NSPIRE standards are due to HUD by August 1; LeadingAge is hosting monthly workgroup calls to provide feedback to REAC.

In a June 17 Federal Register publication, HUD is requesting additional public comment on the agency's implementation of the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate, or NSPIRE, which will replace REAC's current inspection protocol as early as next year.

In 2021, HUD published its NSPIRE proposed rule outlining the process and proposed structure of the new physical inspection oversight mechanism at HUD. Since then, HUD has also been working to update and consolidate the inspection standards across HUD programs and plans to publish the full standards for comment in the Federal Register later in 2022.

HUD is accepting public comment on the proposed changes until August 1; HUD will then consider public feedback before publishing a final notice of new standards in the Federal Register. HUD is seeking broad feedback as well as specific response to key questions.

LeadingAge has worked closely with HUD and with our membership to help develop a robust yet feasible oversight mechanism for the affordable housing portfolio. To assist LeadingAge in submitting feedback to HUD, email Juliana (jbilowich@leadingage.org) to join our monthly HUD Oversight Workgroup, or click here to register in advance.

Health and Safety Enhancements

As HUD develops and tests new draft standards for inspections of housing communities, HUD is seeking additional public review and comment. The major changes proposed by HUD include the following health and safety enhancements considered by REAC:

  • Smoke Alarms - Consistent with HUD's proposed rule, this proposed standard would incorporate prescriptive locations for the installation of smoke alarms to conform with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard 72—National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. Adoption of NFPA 72 would introduce new requirements for smoke alarms by requiring installation on each level and inside each sleeping area.
  • Carbon Monoxide Alarms - This draft standard would incorporate statutory requirements enacted by Congress to conform with the 2018 International Fire Code (IFC) published by the International Code Council. The draft standard would establish deficiency criteria for installation of carbon monoxide alarms.
  • Fire Labeled Doors - This proposed standard would include deficiency criteria specific to these types of doors where present. The deficiencies would include function and operability criteria critical to these fire safety components where present in buildings.
  • Guardrails - This proposed standard would include prescriptive deficiency criteria for guardrails where missing above elevated surfaces to protect from fall hazards along balconies, stairs, ramps, decks, rooftops, hallways, retaining walls, and other walking surfaces.
  • Handrails - This proposed standard would include a deficiency with prescriptive dimensional criteria for handrails that are not functionally adequate and cannot reasonably be grasped by hand to provide stability or support when ascending or descending stairways.
  • Mold-Like Substance - This proposed standard would include deficiencies based on discrete levels of observed conditions and a ventilation or dehumidification requirement for bathrooms to reduce conditions conducive to mold growth.
  • Potential Lead-Based Paint Hazards - This proposed standard would include a deficiency that incorporates the HQS requirements for an enhanced visual assessment for deteriorated paint where there is a child under 6 years of age residing in the unit.
  • Structural System - This proposed standard would include a deficiency that captures signs of serious structural collapse and may threaten the resident's safety.

Additional Enhancements to Inspection Standards

While HUD continues to work with stakeholders and NSPIRE demonstration program participants to update the updated inspection standards, HUD is seeking specific comment on 13 questions for comment included in the June 17 Federal Register publication.

The changes that HUD is considering are not currently reflected in the informal draft standards available for the public to review online. The entire list of questions is available here and includes these potential changes:

  • Required use of moisture meters and established moisture levels for risk mold risk thresholds
  • Definitional and owner responsibility changes to providing “safe” drinking water in HUD-assisted housing
  • Permanent requirement for heating and air condition, despite climates where one or the other is not necessary, and definitions for permanently installed heating sources
  • Ambient temperature requirements and inspection methods, as well as a new deficiency for certain types of space heaters
  • Targeted heat source and temperature requirements for specific months of the year and specific climate zones
  • Amended severity level deficiencies for units with observed temperatures below 68 degrees (severe non-life-threatening) and 64 degrees (life-threatening)
  • New deficiency and testing for unprotected outlets present within six feet of a water source, as well as a new deficiency to address leaks onto or near electrical components in the built environment
  • Adjusted correction timeframe for severe non-life-threatening deficiencies where a corrective action is not technically feasible within 24 hours
  • New and elevated “extensive” infestation standard, and extended correction timeframes for infestation when utilizing industry best practices

Incorporation of HOTMA Life-Threatening Deficiencies List

In its request for additional comment, HUD is also proposing changes to the implementation of the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016 (HOTMA) life-threatening conditions list.

Under HOTMA, life-threatening (LT) deficiencies must be addressed within 24 hours, and all other deficiencies must be addressed within 30 days. HUD proposes incorporating the HOTMA LT list into the NSPIRE standards and not in regulation.