In this June edition of our HUD-REAC newsletter, I am sounding the alarm again for your feedback to HUD.
NSPIRE (National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate) will be replacing the current REAC protocol.
If any of you have attended my NSPIRE Webinar, you have heard me begging for your feedback over and over as they create this new program and NOW is the time!
On June 17, 2022, HUD posted a request for public commentary on 13 specific questions.
There have only been 2 public comments (both very good points and can be read at the link below).
If you do not get involved in developing the rules for NSPIRE now, you cannot complain when the rules negatively impact you and your property later.
- Comment due date is August 1, 2022
- The document can be found here: Federal Register – NSPIRE – Request for Public Comments
- How to submit your feedback:
- Click the link above or here (either one works): gov
- Enter your comment and/or upload documents/letters
- Click “Submit Comment”
- There are 13 questions HUD would like feedback on
- Be concise but support your claims
- Base your justification on sound reasoning, scientific evidence, and/or how you will be impacted
- There is no minimum or maximum length for an effective comment
- If you disagree with a proposed action, suggest an alternative and include an explanation/analysis of how the alternative might meet the same objective or be more effective
- Identify credentials and experience that may distinguish your comments from others
HUD’s 13 Questions for all Stakeholders (i.e. property management, maintenance, owners, voucher landlords, etc.)
Question for Comment #1: HUD is considering amending the proposed “Mold-Like Substance Standard” to include a Deficiency or Deficiency Criteria related to mold risk. This amended Deficiency would help identify sources of moisture conducive to potential mold or mold-like substances. The amended Deficiency would outline the required use of moisture meters and moisture levels and establish the threshold for such a Deficiency. The amended Deficiency would also recommend, but not require, the use of infrared cameras to detect moisture intrusion. HUD seeks input on this proposed requirement, the use of appropriate equipment, and what would be an appropriate correction timeframe.
My Opinion: This would be potentially catastrophic to the inspection process for numerous reasons, which are obvious. The mold/mildew investigations should be left to the professionals along with the use of moisture meters and infrared cameras/thermoguns.
Question for Comment #2: As discussed in the NSPIRE proposed rule, HUD is considering adding the term “safe” to the regulations at 24 CFR 5.703(d) addressing drinking water. This addition would cover situations where the public water supply system has identified drinking water contamination and notified customers of the hazard. This change would not require a new standard. The NSPIRE inspector would collect information from the property manager or owner on the following: (1) any current local water alerts for the jurisdiction where the housing is located; and (2) the name of the public water supply system that serves the property. For the building information collection, the property manager or owner would advise if the property is known to be serviced by a lead service line. If this information is not known for the portion of the pipe on the property, the owner or manager would be asked to identify the water service point of entry into the building and the inspector would conduct a visual evaluation. Details on the process would be published in a subsequent notice. HUD seeks comment on the advisability of adding new requirements for the PHA submission of information performed in advance or as part of the physical inspection.
My Opinion: This should not be added to the already lengthy inspection process. The correct department of HUD or other government agency should work directly with the local government and/or the public utility company if there is cause for concern.
Question for Comment #3: HUD previously requested public comment in the NSPIRE proposed rule regarding a new deficiency under the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) standard for the requirement of permanently installed heating sources. HUD recognizes there may be properties across HUD assisted housing located in perennially warm climates where a permanent heating source may not be necessary or required by local codes. HUD seeks input on these unique climates to better understand where these conditions may exist in HUD assisted properties.
Question for Comment #4: HUD is considering amending the deficiency titled “A permanently installed heating source is damaged, inoperable, missing, or not installed and the outside temperature is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit” to have two distinct severity levels. The proposed deficiency would be amended to require properties to be maintained at a minimum unit temperature of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. A new severe non-life-threatening deficiency would be added for properties with observed unit temperatures between 64- and 67.9-degrees Fahrenheit. HUD seeks input on the advisability of creating two levels of severity for the minimum temperature deficiency.
My Opinion: Overkill. The code requires the ability to maintain at least 68 degrees in a home/unit. If the tenant wants it colder, why should an inspector write them up for it? My main concern is that the heater is there and works. Period.
Question for Comment #5: HUD is considering amending the deficiency titled “A permanently installed heating source is damaged, inoperable, missing, or not installed and the outside temperature is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit” in the HVAC standard to limit the application of this standard and deficiency to specific months of the year and specific climate zones. HUD recognizes the current deficiency may not capture unique climate differences across HUD assisted properties. HUD seeks input on the use of specific months or climate zones for the application of the minimum temperature deficiency.
My Opinion: ABSOLUTELY! Most of the REAC inspectors do this now. Test A/C in the Summer and Heat in the Winter and in the off-seasons, dependent on the weather that particular day.
Question for Comment #6: HUD is considering amending the deficiency “A permanently installed heating source is damaged, inoperable, missing, or not installed and the outside temperature is below 68 degrees Fahrenheit” in the HVAC standard to include measurement by an ambient temperature thermometer provided by the inspector to determine whether the heating source is properly functioning. The amended deficiency would also outline inspection protocols required for using the thermometer. HUD seeks input on this proposed equipment requirement for the minimum temperature deficiency in the HVAC standard.
My Opinion: Not necessary.
Question for Comment #7: HUD previously requested public comments in the NSPIRE proposed rule regarding a new deficiency under the HVAC standard for the requirement of permanently installed heating sources. After reviewing public comments, HUD recognizes the need to define “permanently installed heating sources.” HUD seeks specific input on defining this term.
Question for Comment #8: HUD previously requested public comments in the NSPIRE proposed rule regarding a new deficiency under the HVAC standard for the requirement of permanently installed heating sources. HUD recognizes there may be extreme cold weather conditions when supplemental heating units may be needed to maintain a safe level of heat. HUD is considering amending the HVAC standard to create a new deficiency for the presence of unvented, fuel-burning space heaters due to the associated fire and carbon monoxide risk. HUD seeks input on this proposed deficiency for unvented, fuel-burning space heaters.
My Opinion: REAC inspectors already write this up anyway so this would be nothing new.
Question for Comment #9: HUD is considering amending the “unprotected outlet is present within six feet of a water source” proposed deficiency within the Electrical—Outlet and Switch Standard to explicitly allow using a receptacle tester with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) test button or using the integral device tester during the inspection process. This amended Deficiency would specify the acceptable types of receptacle testers and could include acceptable industry standards for a receptable tester with a GFCI test button. An example of an acceptable industry tool standard would be Underwriters Lab Standard 1436-for Outlet Circuit Testers and Similar Indicating Devices. The amended deficiency would also add protocol details to the inspection process for the deficiency. HUD seeks input on this proposed tool specification requirement.
My Opinion: HUD needs to consider the construction years of the properties. For example, GFCI’s were not required in bathrooms in properties constructed prior to 1975. If HUD enacts this proposed rule without construction year consideration, this will cost property owners tens of thousands of dollars. As to using the circuit testers, it can be very time-consuming depending if the outlet tested is downstream from a GFCI located somewhere else in the unit.
Question for Comment #10: HUD is considering amending the Electrical—Conductor standard to include a new deficiency to address leaks onto or near electrical components in the built environment. HUD seeks input on deficiency criteria for this proposed deficiency.
My Opinion: This should only be recorded if there is currently wet or damp conditions near the electrical supply (electrical supplies not designed for wet conditions). Too many properties get called on this deficiency now under REAC on extremely old water stains around electrical equipment.
Question for Comment #11: HUD is considering amending the correction timeframes for standards and deficiencies categorized as “Severe Non-Life Threatening” where a corrective action may not be technically feasible within 24 hours. The statutory repair timeframes required under HOTMA prevent changes to correction timeframes to properties in the HCV or PBV programs. The amendment HUD is considering would continue to require that the Health or Safety risk to the resident be removed within 24 hours, but the correction timeframe would be extended. HUD recognizes that not all severe conditions can be repaired within 24 hours as they may require building permits or engaging the services of an appropriate contractor. HUD seeks specific input on whether this proposed change in correction timeframes should be addressed within the standards or through an administrative process where HUD makes an adjustment within its database to reflect an extended timeframe of repair. HUD also seeks specific input on which standards and deficiencies would benefit from this proposed approach to corrections.
My Opinion: Seeing as there are going to be approximately 110 “Severe Non-Life Threatening” deficiencies requiring correction in 24 hours, any additional time that HUD will give properties is absolutely a good thing.
Question for Comment #12: HUD is considering amending the Infestation Standard to create new deficiencies for extensive infestations for the pest deficiencies, which currently lack an extensive deficiency. The current deficiency criteria for extensive cockroach infestation have a specific threshold for the visual observation. The amended standard would include specific criteria with thresholds comparable to the existing extensive cockroach infestation deficiency. HUD seeks input on this proposed deficiency, appropriate deficiency criteria and which pests, if others, should also be covered under the Infestation Standard and elevated to “extensive.”
My Opinion: This is NOT the problem under Infestation that HUD should be focused on. Currently nothing makes sense under this Standard. It is currently defined as “The presence of potentially disease carrying animals or insects” and then goes on to list as many animals and insects HUD could think of including squirrels, gophers, flies, fruit flies, spiders, armadillos, opossums, nutria, etc. It is utterly ridiculous. If they are going to keep bees, wasps and many other insects/animals listed, the deficiency definition needs to be changed to, “The presence of animals or insects that could cause bodily harm or be potentially disease carrying” and then only list animals and insects that actually do either of those.
Secondly, the current definition for an extensive is 3 or more cockroaches. Although the second part of the definition says 1 roach in 2 different rooms is also extensive. It can be argued that just seeing 1 is enough to be extensive because if you see one…there are absolutely more. The correction timeframe is 24 hours which is impossible to achieve. These are the issues that should be addressed – not adding more extensive infestations to the list.
Question for Comment #13: HUD is considering amending the Infestation Standard to create a longer timeframe of repair for severe infestation deficiencies. The amended deficiency would allow longer correction timeframes when properties utilize industry best practices for mitigating infestations and assessing infestation risks. The amended correction timeframes that HUD is considering would apply only to Public Housing and Multifamily properties due to the statutory constraints on the HCV and PBV programs. An example of industry best practices would be utilizing integrated pest management as a form of proactive pest control. HUD seeks input on an appropriate correction timeframe and use of industry best practices to address infestations in HUD-assisted properties.
My Opinion: If by “severe” they mean “Extensive” (there is no “severe” under the Infestation Standard) then ABSOLUTELY! It is not possible to eradicate or even attempt to mitigate a cockroach infestation within 24 hours.
For all the above changes, HUD also seeks comments on whether these proposed requirements, as applied to all covered housing, would substantially narrow the pool of available rental housing for families participating in HUD’s programs. HUD also notes that HUD is continuing to review the comments received through the Federal Register on the NSPIRE proposed rule in the development of the attached standards. All standards-related comments from the NSPIRE proposed rule and comments received in response to this request for comments will be considered prior to the final standards notice.
PLEASE get involved as every property that receives assistance by HUD will be affected by the upcoming NSPIRE Protocol.
HUD is listening NOW!