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HOME Program Switches to UPCS Inspection Protocol

HOME Program Adopts UPCS Inspection Standard

The 2013 Rule confirms the adoption of Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS), a uniform national inspection standard established by HUD. This protocol determines whether housing is decent, safe, sanitary, and in good repair or not. The rule adopting UPCS for the HOME program will impact both existing HOME-assisted housing, and newly developed properties. There is, however, a delay in the effective date of implementation to January 24, 2015. HUD is expected to issue guidance on the specific inspectable elements of UPCS that will apply to HOME.

Significant changes to property standards were included in the Final Rule. These new changes incorporated several NEW requirements for New Construction, Rehabilitation, and existing HOME-assisted properties. A clear summary of these changes can be found in Section 92.251. The effective date for changes to property standards is January 24, 2015 – and applies to projects to which HOME funds are committed after this date.

Is UPCS The Same Thing as REAC?

No. REAC Inspections use the Uniform Physical Conditions Standards (UPCS) to determine what is and isn’t a deficiency. REAC assigns scoring values to those deficiencies and uses set policies and procedures to conduct oversight inspections.  The inspection protocol defines what inspectable item to assess, and what the standards are for each item.

Inspection Frequency/Sampling size

The 2013 Rule also made substantial revisions to inspection sample sizes and frequency. To facilitate alignment with LIHTC and other funding sources, the frequency of inspections for HOME-assisted properties will no longer be based on the number of units in the project.

  • First inspection: within 12 months of project completion.
  • Follow-Up Inspection: Hazardous issues: immediately. Remaining items: within 1 year.
  • Compliance Inspections: Every three years during the affordability period (though PJ’s may establish more frequent inspection schedules).

Inspection samples have been simplified as well:

  • 1-4 HOME-Assisted Units = Each building with HOME Units and all HOME Units
  • 4 + HOME-Assisted Units = Each building with HOME Units and at least 20% of HOME Units in each building, but no fewer than four units in each project and one HOME unit in each building

The 2013 Rule for inspection frequency and sampling goes into effect on July 24, 2014.

What determines Pass and Fail?

Unlike HQS, the UPCS Inspection Code has no inherent definition of “Pass or Fail” associated with each violation. Instead, the inspection code simply rates deficiencies on the degree of damage and leaves the rating associated with the inspection violation to the enforcement agency. The regulations for the HUD HOME program state that at the initial qualifying UPCS Inspection, the unit or project must repair any and all UPCS Violations. So, in essence, any violation at all on a new unit inspection would constitute a failure.

If any agency were to use “Pass” or “Fail”, the need for severity (Level 1, 2, and 3) is less relevant.  If the agency records a “Level 1” deficiency as a “fail”, escalated or intensified conditions only reinforce the “failed” designation.  For example, once a hole in an interior wall is more than 1″ in diameter, it is “failing”, the same as a much larger hole.

Is there a different checklist for single unit projects as opposed to multifamily?

There are various forms and field guides available for UPCS, but the inspection code itself does not require a checklist. UPCS establishes a minimum standard for each component, and the inspector determines compliance by component, in each location. So. the inspection uses the same principles on buildings of every type.

Can we implement Local Codes instead of UPCS?

Yes, as explained in a public conference call with HUD on the subject of the proposed rule changes to (HOME) the participating jurisdiction (PJ) can opt to use local code or UPCS “whichever is more stringent”. This does not mean that you have to adopt local code or UPCS for all violations, but instead that you can create a “blended” guideline for the specific jurisdiction.

  • State of XYZ requires GFCI Protection
  • UPCS requires GFCI to function where present

In this case, the PJ can opt to use the more stringent option – the state code.

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