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News | The Final NSPIRE Standards Notice is Out!

compliance monitoring news nspire Jun 20, 2023

On June 15, 2023, HUD's REAC Office released a final NSPIRE Inspections Standards Notice preview to support the new updated NSPIRE Standards 3.0. It is available HERE.

The final NSPIRE Standards will be available soon at

On June 17, 2022, HUD published a request for comments on a draft set of NSPIRE Standards. HUD received 80 comments in response. After developing and testing draft Standards and receiving public comment, feedback through the NSPIRE demonstration, and input from HUD partners, industry stakeholders, and the public on the NSPIRE Standards Version 2.2, HUD is now publishing this Final Standards Notice and will soon release NSPIRE Standards Version 3.0. HUD is providing the final NSPIRE physical Inspection Standards to accompany HUD’s Final NSPIRE Rule. Additionally, HUD provides a list of life-threatening conditions and incorporates them into the NSPIRE Inspection Standards. These final Standards adopt the proposed Standards with changes identified in this most recent Notice. Here we will summarize many of the changes set forth in the Notice. 

Note for HOME, NHTF, and other HUD-CPD programs

The Notice clarifies that, with one exception, CPD programs are not subject to the requirements or standards issued through this new notice. HUD will be issuing other program-specific notices to address the implementation of NSPIRE Standards for CPD programs. The one exception involves the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, which is the only CPD program covered by the requirement to install carbon monoxide detection devices. With respect to that carbon monoxide detection requirement, the standards HUD is establishing under this Notice also apply for purposes of the HOPWA program. In all other respects, this notice and these standards do not apply for purposes of the HOPWA program.

Future Updates

HUD intends to update the Standards every three years, with an opportunity for public comment each time. This will provide further opportunities for the public to examine proposed changes, provide pertinent comments, and suggest the inclusion of industry best practices. 

Life Threatening [LT] List

Under NSPIRE and another law, the Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act (HOTMA), HUD is required to publish a list of life-threatening conditions. Rather than create separate regulations, HUD includes the LT list in these final NSPIRE Standards as Table 65

Correction Timeframes for Severe (Non-Life Threatening) Deficiencies
Where possible, correction timeframes are addressed in the Standards, but HUD also agrees that an administrative process for determining a correction timeframe is necessary under certain circumstances. Therefore, HUD will include correction timeframes for each deficiency in the Standards, but will also provide the opportunity to adjust those timeframes when necessary via administrative procedure. This will be discussed in an Administrative Notice.

HUD also notes that temporary relocation of residents is an option if appropriate repairs cannot be performed in the required timeframe. Additionally, as discussed below, appropriate interim repairs may be allowable, if the safety and health hazard is sufficiently corrected such that they no longer pose a severe health or safety risk to residents of the property, or that the hazard is blocked until permanent repairs can be completed. Interim repair does not remove the requirement for timely and full repair of the Deficiency.

Health and Safety Categories 

There have been revisions to the Health and Safety category titles, as follows:

  1. The “Severe Non-Life-Threatening” category is now titled “Severe”
  2. The “Standard” category is now titled “Moderate”; and
  3. The “N/A” or “Advisory” category is now titled “Low”.

Originally, HUD intended "Advisory" deficiencies to act as warnings to agents/owners of issues that may become a "Moderate" deficiency if left unaddressed and the "Advisory" deficiencies did not have a correction timeframe. Upon further consideration, however, HUD determined that these deficiencies still represent conditions that should be repaired, and therefore “Advisory” was renamed to “Low” and HUD will impose a relatively small point scoring deduction for "Low" deficiencies. In the final Standards, HUD also added a 60-day correction timeframe to these deficiencies.

The Infestation, Mold-Like Substance, and Potential Lead-Based Paint Hazards – Visual Assessment Standards will include Deficiencies that are scored at the Life-Threatening level point deduction, despite being defined in the Severe H&S category. These Severe Health and Safety Deficiencies do not present risks consistent with the Life-Threatening definition, but they do present chronic health risks that are distinct from the other Severe Health and Safety Deficiencies. This chronic health risk category includes deficiencies that present a high risk of causing or exacerbating a chronic and severe health condition; severe health conditions include permanent disability or serious illness. This includes cases in which the harm has a likelihood of accruing irrevocably in under 24 hours and may also include risks due to longer-term exposure. This category does not define an additional risk ranking or correction timeframe. It is a sub-category to be used for scoring. 

For each NSPIRE inspection Standard, the definition, location, deficiency, deficiency criteria, health and safety determination, and correction timeframe are listed. Further, HUD believes that housing standards must focus on habitability and the health and safety of residents. Each NSPIRE Standard contains “rationales,” or the reason the requirement is necessary. Rationales describe the potential harm that may result from a given deficiency if left uncorrected. Generally, rationales include the health, safety, and/or major functional or habitability issue, and illustrate why detection and remediation of the deficiency is critical to housing quality. The rationales for the Standards and associated deficiencies will be available on HUD's Client Information Policy Systems (HUDCLIPS) at

Abridged Summary | Changes and Clarifications to the NSPIRE Standards

Smoke Alarms
NSPIRE requires the installation of fire alarms on each level and inside each sleeping area. This is aligned with other fire code standards. The NSPIRE Smoke Alarm Standard does not require that the smoke alarm have a sealed battery. However, upon December 29, 2024, the effective date of the Public and Federally Assisted Housing Fire Safety Act of 2022, sealed batteries will be required.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms
The Final Carbon Monoxide Alarm Standard incorporates the legal requirements for HUD Housing to contain carbon monoxide detectors in compliance with Chapters 9 and 11 of the 2018 International Fire Code (IFC). The Final NSPIRE Rule requires compliance with HUD carbon monoxide standards in both the Inside Area and the Unit. In most circumstances, CO detectors will only be required if a fuel-burning appliance or fireplace is directly attached to or within the unit or if an unventilated garage is attached to the unit. If there is an attached, unventilated garage, CO detectors are required, even if there is not a fuel-burning appliance or fuel-burning fireplace in the unit or building.

Door – Entry
The severity level for unit entry doors has been elevated to Life-Threatening. Although a unit entry door may not be a fire-labeled door, it may still offer some level of protection from fire and smoke during a fire. The presence of a non-fire-labeled unit entry door provides residents with an opportunity to shelter in place while a fire is extinguished or to be rescued by emergency personnel. The health and safety risk to a resident occupying a unit missing an entry door during a fire could rise to the level of Life-Threatening. Additionally, a missing unit entry door may negatively affect the physical safety and security of residents. 

Deficiency criteria for the egress Standard have been changed by requiring bedroom window egress only for units in the building’s 3rd level and below, and living room windows are not considered egress for the purposes of this Standard unless there is a fire escape present.

Electrical – Conductor
Given that a missing lightbulb has not been identified as a systemic safety concern in the most recent research in residential electrical safety, a missing light bulb will not be cited as an exposed conductor. However, a missing light bulb may be cited under the Lighting – Interior Standard as an inoperable fixture if a light bulb is not installed during the inspection to demonstrate the fixture is in proper working condition.

The unprotected outlet Deficiency (“An unprotected outlet is present within six feet of a water source”) was moved from the Electrical – Outlet and Switch Standard to the Electrical – Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) or Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) – Outlet or Breaker, and GFCI is now specified as a requirement [see below].

Electrical - Conductor, Outlet, and Switch

The Electrical – Outlet and Switch Standard and the Electrical – Conductor Standard, which were separate in the proposed Standards, have been combined into one Standard for the Final NSPIRE Standards: Electrical - Conductor, Outlet, and Switch. A Deficiency has been added to that final Standard, “Water is
currently in contact with an electrical conductor” due to the shock and fire risks associated with
this condition.


HUD agrees with concerns that, a “Leak” deficiency in the “Electrical – Conductor” Standard, remnant water stains (and not active leaks) may be cited as a deficiency. They also note that certain electronic components are designed to be used in wet locations. Only active leaks are to be cited, and leaks near a component confirmed to be waterproof will not be cited. HUD clarifies that a leak cited under this deficiency will not also be cited under the “Leak” deficiency elsewhere in NSPIRE.

Fire Labeled Doors
The Fire Labeled Door Standard includes deficiency criteria specific to these types of doors if they are present in a building, although such doors are not required by NSPIRE. Fire Doors that are present will be inspected under NSPIRE and where present must operate effectively to reduce risk of death or injury. Technical training and educational requirements that are necessary to assess Fire Doors will be provided to NSPIRE inspectors. These will not be performing a technically exhaustive Fire Door inspection themselves and will receive training as to when to refer potential issues to an appropriately trained individual.

The Graffiti Standard has been removed. Graffiti does not have a clear health and safety risk and HUD has reviewed this Standard and believes that it is unnecessary and therefore is removing it from the NSPIRE Standards.

The Guardrail Standard includes deficiency criteria for guardrails. The installation of guardrails will be required where these are missing above elevated surfaces to protect from fall hazards along balconies, stairs, ramps, decks, rooftops, hallways, retaining walls, and other walking surfaces. HUD believes that guardrails are essential to resident safety. Guardrails are commonly required in local codes. Therefore, for many localities, this will not be a new requirement, and therefore this is not expected to create a significant burden.

The Handrail Standard includes a deficiency for handrails that are not functionally adequate and cannot reasonably be grasped by hand to provide stability or support when ascending or descending stairways. This Standard also includes a new deficiency for stairs where no handrail is
present and there is no evidence of previous installation (which is different from the deficiency for a missing handrail where there is evidence of previous installation). This deficiency will not be scored and there is no requirement for a correction. Given the significant health impacts resulting from trip and fall injuries, it would still benefit properties to address these risks as soon as possible. The data from this deficiency will be monitored and a requirement for handrails to be installed will be considered for the NSPIRE standards in the future.

While some infestations would be expected to have severe impacts on the health and safety of the resident – pest infestations are not documented to be life-threatening per the NSPIRE definition (that is they do not present “a high risk of death to the resident”). 

HUD confirms that initiation of an appropriate pest management plan meets the requirement for correction, with the understanding that, while pests may still be present at the start of the pest management plan, they will be managed through the plan. Ongoing implementation of an appropriate pest management plan documented and initiated prior to the inspection will also satisfy this condition. Within the correction timeframe, documentation must be provided for the pest management plan, and this documentation must include: start date of the plan; servicing schedule; methods of pest monitoring, managing and treatment; and other factors as determined by HUD, the PHA, and/or other relevant authority.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan is strongly encouraged. An IPM uses prevention-based pest management methods, with a focus on:

  • Identifying and correcting building conditions that contribute to infestation.
  • Reducing the use of pesticides, especially routine or untargeted pesticide application.
  • Modification of hygiene and sanitation practices in and on the property.
  • Assessment and ongoing monitoring to assure appropriate interventions as needed.

Additional pest species not listed in the Standard, including ants, spiders, fleas, raccoons, squirrels, and snakes, or any pest with potential impacts on resident health and safety, would constitute evidence of an infestation and therefore be counted as a deficiency. The presence of rats, mice, cockroaches, and bed bugs specifically are each identified as separate deficiencies because they are common forms of infestation that present certain health risks and challenges that HUD wishes to identify specifically. This is not intended to be a complete list of pests, and additional pests are noted in the “other pests” Deficiency of the Infestation Standard

Mold-Like Substance
The Mold-Like Substance Standard includes deficiencies based on levels of observed conditions and a ventilation or dehumidification requirement for bathrooms to reduce conditions conducive to mold growth. The Deficiency “Presence of mold-like at very low levels is observed visually” has been removed. HUD agrees that certain Mold-Like Substance conditions should be considered Life-Threatening, but only Presence of Mold-like Substance at extremely high levels in the Unit is considered a Life-Threatening Deficiency.

The ventilation Deficiency in the Mold-Like Substance Standard includes a requirement for mechanical ventilation, a window (in the bathroom), or a dehumidifier. HUD is not requiring a specific means of
reducing humidity in a bathroom. This requirement may be met by one or more of the methods listed above. However, other means may also be employed to reduce the humidity below levels conducive to mold growth.

HUD knows that using instrumentation such as moisture meters and infrared (IR) cameras may add to the time it will take to perform inspections, and that use of the equipment will require technical training. HUD believes that any increased inspection time would be warranted by the increased attention to critical health and safety hazards and the subsequent benefits. These instruments are for use by inspectors with specific training in the use of those devices. HUD will not provide training for moisture meters or IR cameras, but training is available from other sources. Moisture may be due to resident activities (such as varying use of vents, fans, or air conditioners to reduce moisture and humidity) and moisture and humidity may vary across climate zones. Tenant activities will be covered in the administrative notice. Also, ambient/air moisture (humidity) would not be covered under a moisture deficiency; the moisture deficiency is solely limited to building components, not the air. The moisture meter will be used to record values for surfaces that have already been visually identified as apparently moist. If a thermal anomaly is observed using an IR camera, the moisture meter must be used to confirm whether there is elevated moisture present. IR cameras cannot be used by themselves. HUD expects that the proper use of moisture meters and IR cameras will increase the health and safety-related conditions of housing by adding to the available information related to conditions that are conducive to mold growth. This usage will also provide data for further assessment of the benefit of using moisture meters in NSPIRE inspections.

Potential Lead-based Paint Hazards Visual Assessment
The Potential Lead-based Paint Hazards Standard includes a deficiency that requires an enhanced visual assessment for deteriorated paint where there is a child under 6 years of age residing in the unit. An administrative notice will include updated inspection processes for this Standard. 

Sprinkler Assembly
Small flecks of paint will not be cited as a Deficiency in the Final NSPIRE Sprinkler Assembly
Standard. Corrosion has been added as a separate Deficiency. These changes were based on assessments of the respective safety risks of these conditions. 

Structural System
The Structural System Standard includes a deficiency that captures signs of serious structural collapse and may threaten resident safety. UPCS and HQS had serious structural deficiencies that were spread across the various building components. NSPIRE combines them into a single Standard. HUD acknowledges the technical training and educational requirements to assess structural systems. Training required for this inspection will be provided. NSPIRE Inspectors will not be making structural stability assessments and would receive training as to when to refer potential structural systems issues to an appropriately trained individual.

Address and Signage
HUD believes that adequate property address signage is essential to resident safety, to assure that
emergency services can quickly and efficiently find sites within a property, and therefore
adequate signage is critical to the NSPIRE inspection process and will be required to be installed if not present.

Electrical – GFCI or AFCI – Outlet or Breaker
HUD believes that Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) or Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) are essential to resident safety to prevent death and injury, and therefore GFCIs are required in the NSPIRE inspection. GFCIs are commonly required in local codes and therefore are an existing requirement under those local codes. Therefore, for many localities, this will not be a new requirement. HUD believes that any increased inspection time would be minimal and would be warranted by the increased attention to electrical hazards of unprotected outlets.

HUD has clarified that “Unprotected” in the GFCI Standard refers to an outlet that is not GFCI protected. HUD also states that inspectors are allowed to use either a receptacle tester with a GFCI test button or the integral device tester.

Fire Extinguishers
Tenant-owned fire extinguishers will not be inspected under NSPIRE.

If window screens are present and are damaged, this is an NSPIRE Deficiency. Having window screens is not required. However, if window screens are present, they must be functional, and if there is evidence that window screens were previously installed in a location, the window screen must be present.

There are no Standards for playgrounds in NSPIRE. Though not specifically limited to playgrounds, there are current NSPIRE Standards that apply to playgrounds. For example, Trip Hazard and Sharp Edges would apply to playgrounds.

Overgrown Vegetation
There is no overgrown vegetation deficiency or Standard in NSPIRE. However, if the overgrown
vegetation is causing another NSPIRE Deficiency, for example by damaging roofing or siding materials, it must be addressed. Also, vegetation management may be a component of an IPM pest management plan. 

Interim Repairs
NSPIRE allows that there may be interim repairs that remove a health and safety hazard even though those repairs are not permanent. For example, a missing GFCI can have an interim repair such as a blank cover plate. Such interim repairs must be fully repaired within a reasonable timeframe approved
by HUD or a designee (such as a PHA). Interim repairs are not required to be aesthetically pleasing or conforming to other aspects of the building, but if the interim repair effectively removes the health and safety hazard until the full repair is performed and if the full repair is completed within the required timeframe, then the interim repair is acceptable under NSPIRE. If the interim repair is implemented prior to the inspection, the timeline for full repair begins at the time of inspection, without regard to the time of the initial, pre-inspection implementation of the interim repair.

“Safe” Drinking Water
Another federal agency (the EPA) and state and local entities already perform oversight of drinking water, and a separate entity from the owner or PHA supplies the water and maintains the pipes. Where local or state codes, laws, or regulations exceed HUD Standards, the property must comply with the most stringent applicable standards. 

HUD will not inspect for water quality per se. The NSPIRE safe drinking water component will only entail:

  1. Visual inspection for lead service lines and
  2. Assessment (via an information request, not physical inspection) if there has been a water outage or water alert and the response if an outage or alert has occurred.

This is solely for the purpose of data collection and will not be scored. This will be covered in more detail in an administrative notice. HUD believes that adequate levels of technical proficiency can be achieved with appropriate training. 

Heating Ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
HUD will require permanent heating sources in all locales except for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. Those localities where permanent heating sources will not be required are Tropical. 

Permanently Installed Heating Source
HUD notes that while the NSPIRE inspection might not be performed at a time of the year when the resident would require heating, adequate heat in the dwelling must be available when required, and the NSPIRE inspection must be performed when scheduled, even if that inspection is not performed when heating would be required in the dwelling. Therefore, the inspection requirements are applicable at the time of inspection regardless of the time of year. HUD acknowledges that some residents may have temperature needs that are above or below those that are established in NSPIRE and that housing providers must provide for these temperature needs for tenants with disabilities as a reasonable accommodation. This may be dealt with administratively by an NSPIRE inspector, for example by a Database Adjustment. Tenant choice may affect the point-in-time temperature measurement in a unit and the tenant may choose to have the unit be colder or warmer than a given requirement. How to address tenant variations will be covered in an administrative notice.

Proper training, including for calibration and for determining the location of temperature measurements, will be available for inspectors. HUD believes that any increased inspection burden due to increased instrumentation requirements will be minimal and will be warranted by the increased attention to housing temperature, which is a critical health condition of the home. This will have subsequent benefits to the resident due to the identification and correction of temperature-related hazards in the residence.

Definition of Permanently Installed Heating Source
HUD notes that a permanent heating source should be neither temporary nor portable and should be directly wired to the building’s power source. Permanent Heating Sources should include central systems, baseboard heating, and permanently affixed in-wall units. They should not include cooking appliances or portable heaters. A power source on a dedicated breaker is a part of the definition. Additionally, a fireplace would not be considered a permanent heating source. Permanent heating sources are typically specified as being self-fueled, permanently affixed within the unit or building, safely connected to the unit or building electrical system, thermostatically controlled by the unit or building, and appropriate for the size of the unit. These comments have been incorporated into the definition of “Permanent Heating Source” that is provided in the NSPIRE Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Standard.

Unvented, Fuel-Burning Space Heaters
HUD acknowledges that tenants may use their own space heaters. HUD reiterates the critical health and safety risk of unvented fuel-burning space heaters and emphasizes the prohibition of unvented space heaters.


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