HUD Releases Initial Look at NSPIRE Inspection Standards
On August 20, 2019, HUD released the first of the new NSPIRE protocols which will be expected to become active once the pilot/demonstration program has concluded. This is a first look at what deficiencies will look like under NSPIRE, the inspection protocol which will eventually take the place of UPCS. HUD has created a webpage where they are going to be posting new deficiencies as they work through the pilot program. To clarify, these standards are not currently in effect, but we expect these new standards to be revised and additional standards to be released.
This inspection protocol is a significant departure from UPCS, which used a series of severity ratings. Instead of determining what makes something (1) minor, (2) major and (3) severe. HUD NPSIRE will list a series of possible deficiencies for each item, and inspectors will make a Yes or No determination.
In this initial release, HUD chose to provide five examples: (1) Chimneys, (2) Exit Signs, (3) Sinks, (4) Smoke Detectors, and (5) Trash Chutes.
New Standards, New Style for Deficiencies
Using Chimneys as the first example, the deficiency has changed from the existing three-tier set of deficiencies under UPCS to a new standard that has seven different deficiencies. The additional new standards represent new tests that will be performed on chimneys during an inspection, including new procedures for testing dampers and checking the chimney for clogs (which will be tested by reviewing documentation from a regular cleaning).
New Concepts of Life-Threatening Deficiencies
In reviewing the one example of Chimneys, HUD has also greatly expanded the definition of “Life-Threatening Health & Safety”. Currently, there are less than ten EH&S issues in the entire UPCS protocol, and in the one example of Chimney, five of the seven deficiencies are considered Life-Threatening.
This trend continues with other items, including the sink, which will define missing components, inoperable hardware, and clogged drains all to be life-threatening.
New Standards for Smoke Detectors
NSPIRE will also introduce new standards for smoke detectors which may exceed local code requirements. Under UPCS, there is a requirement for there to be one smoke detector per floor, per dwelling unit. Under NSPIRE this is extending to one per bedroom and one per floor (in the hallway, living room, etc). Similar to Chimneys, smoke detectors are extending from one deficiency to three separate deficiencies: (1) Missing from Bedrooms (2) Obstructed, (3) Inoperable.