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HUD slashing advanced notice for inspections on public housing, privately owned apartments

Cutting inspection lead time from as much as 4 months to 14 days

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is about to give landlords and property owners much less of a warning about when it is going to inspect public housing or privately owned apartment buildings that include HUD-subsidized units.

HUD announced Wednesday that it is “dramatically reducing” the lead time between when it notifies public housing authorities and private owners of HUD-subsidized apartments about inspections on their properties and when those inspections actually take place.

According to HUD, its Real Estate Assessment Center currently provides as much as four months advanced notice before inspecting a multifamily property to ensure that it is “decent, safe and healthy.”

But HUD is cutting that lead time from as much as four months to 14 days.

Beginning 30 days from now, on March 22, HUD will notify landlords and property owners 14 calendar days before an inspection is to take place.

According to HUD, its current system allows for property owners to use the lengthy lead time before an inspection to make “cosmetic, just-in-time” repairs to their properties, thereby ensuring that the pass inspection but not sufficiently sustaining proper maintenance throughout the year.

“It’s become painfully clear to us that too many public housing authorities and private landlords whom we contract with were using the weeks before their inspection to make quick fixes, essentially gaming the system,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “The action we take today is part of a broader review of our inspections so we can be true to the promise of providing housing that’s decent, safe and healthy to the millions of families we serve.”

According to HUD, the Real Estate Assessment Center is currently responsible for inspecting properties owned and operated by approximately 3,700 local public housing authorities in the nation. Additionally, REAC-contracted inspectors assess approximately 23,000 privately owned apartment buildings.

Under the current system, approximately 96% of these properties pass their inspections, but HUD says that that many PHAs and landlords have “grown accustomed to REAC's 20-year-old inspection regime” and, sometimes invest more money and time in passing the minimal inspection requirements instead of providing quality housing, as they are obligated to do.

In the new system, HUD employees and contract inspectors acting on HUD’s behalf will required to provide property owners 14 calendar days of notice prior to an inspection.

If the property owner declines, cancels or refuse to let an inspector review a property, HUD will record a presumptive score of zero. If a second inspection attempt results in a valid inspection within seven calendar days, the resulting score will be recorded for the property in question.

To read HUD’s full notice on the new inspection plan, click here.

Additionally, HUD said that it is planning a series of listening sessions to gather input from the public and HUD stakeholders about a planned pilot program to test "innovative new approaches to inspecting HUD-assisted properties." According to HUD, the initial listening sessions are planned for Philadelphia, Fort Worth, Atlanta, Detroit and Seattle.

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