On January 13th, 2021, HUD published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that presents a new approach to defining and assessing housing quality among HUD programs, calling the approach, the ‘National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate’ (NSPIRE).
The intent of the proposed rule along with the existing NSPIRE demonstration was to improve HUD oversight by aligning the physical inspection regulations used to evaluate HUD-assisted housing across multiple HUD programs to create a unified assessment of housing quality. The proposed rule would also establish a method HUD will use to implement specific NSPIRE standards, scoring, and processes through Federal Register notices.
Further, the proposed rule seeks to:
- Apply a safe, habitable dwellings standard.
- Reduce the categories of current inspectable areas for physical condition standards from five to three.
- Implement a new annual self-inspection and reporting requirement for certain HUD-assisted housing.
- Establish an administrative process for the treatment of health and safety deficiencies.
- Incorporate provisions of the ‘Economic Growth and Recovery, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act’ that will reduce the administrative burden on small, rural public housing agencies.
Further, during the NSPIRE demonstration stage and parallel with a formal rulemaking, HUD plans to draft Federal Register notices that outline specific inspection standards, scoring, and protocols. All updated standards and scoring methodologies would be published, as needed by the proposed rule, through a Federal Register notice at least once every three years, with the opportunity for public comment prior to implementation.
HUD also concludes that existing housing standards should focus on habitability, residential use of structures, and most importantly, the health and safety of residents.
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