HUD Publishes Version 1.0 of UPCS-V Protocol

On August 4, HUD published version 1.0 of the UPCS-V protocol. The protocol discusses multiple aspects of UPCS-V, including the roles and responsibilities of various entities, an overview of the UPCS-V inspection, pre-inspection activities, the inspection itself, and post-inspection activities. It also contains three appendices that include a defect dictionary, special housing types, and lead-based guidelines.
Roles and Responsibilities
The PHA is responsible for adopting both the UPCS-V protocol and a written Administrative Plan that establishes local policies. Within the Administrative Plan, the PHA must establish a tenancy approval procedure, a method for calculating amenities in rent reasonableness, HUD-approved variances, policies and procedures related to scheduling, which testing devices to use, a procedure to verify the correction of UPCS-V deficiencies, abatement procedures, and procedures for the termination of HAP assistance. In addition, the PHA is responsible for informing the tenant and owner of necessary corrections and the time period for corrections. The PHA is also responsible for maintaining records and protecting owner and tenant privacy.
Inspectors, owners, and tenants have certain responsibilities under the UPCS-V protocol. Inspectors must participate in HUD-required trainings. Owners are responsible for maintaining the unit in accordance with UPCS-V or a higher standard. Tenants are responsible for complying with the terms of their lease and keeping the unit safe and sanitary.
Types of Inspections
The PHA is required to conduct an initial inspection for each unit to be occupied by a tenant. PHAs with up to 1,250 budgeted units must conduct the inspection within 15 days after the tenant submits a request for tenancy. PHAs with more than 1,250 budgeted units must conduct inspections in a reasonable time. Inspections must be conducted at least once every two years, and PHAs may use several methods to inform owners of UPCS-V requirements. This includes briefing materials, websites, telephone discussions, tenancy approval materials, monthly newsletters, owner workshops, and public meetings with current and prospective owners. Additionally, there are inspections that must be conducted in response to a complaint, and there are quality control inspections that must be completed as part of SEMAP requirements.
Inspection Structure
The new protocol contains five inspectable areas: building exterior, unit, building systems, common areas, and site. The protocol is primarily concerned with the unit, but the inspector must look at all areas and evaluate all inspectable items.
Defects and Time for Repair
Defects are classified into levels of severity, ranging from L1 (Minor Defect) to L3 (Significant Defect). Defects may also be classified as “observations” or “deficiencies.” Observations are noted, but do not cause the unit to fail, while deficiencies cause the unit to fail the inspection. Observations and deficiencies may also be classified as “Life Threatening or Emergency” (LTE), which must be addressed within 24 hours. All other deficiencies must be addressed in 30 days. Additionally, HUD may grant approval for a PHA to use variances which consider local code, climatic, and geographic differences. Variances will only be approved if the variance meets or exceeds the protocol without limiting the amount and type of rental housing available.
There are four possible inspection outcomes:
1.    A unit may pass.
2.    A unit may fail.
3.    The inspection may be unsuccessful if an inspection cannot start because there is no available inspector or if unsafe conditions prevent the inspection from starting.
4.    The inspection may be incomplete if the inspector begins an inspection but is interrupted and is unable to complete the inspection.
PHAs must schedule initial, biennial (once every two years), and special (quality control and complaint) inspections. Initial inspections must be scheduled in accordance with HUD’s program requirements and biennial inspections and quality control inspections must be scheduled in accordance with Section Eight Management Assessment Program (SEMAP) requirements. Complaint inspections should be divided between those that have LTEs and those that do not. The former category should be inspected as soon as possible and not beyond the next business day, while those in the latter category should be within the next seven days. Inspectors should not cancel an inspection within 72 hours, if possible. If an inspector needs to reschedule an inspection, the inspector must do so at the earliest opportunity possible. Inspectors should confirm the inspection the day before.
Inspectors must have certain devices to conduct their inspections. These devices include a data collection device such as a stand-alone tablet or smartphone that can be used to record, upload and download data files, and submit conditions of the units to HUD. This device must have a built-in camera. The inspector must use certain other testing devices including a distance-measuring device (e.g., a tape measure); lighting device (e.g., flashlight); temperature-measuring device (e.g., thermometer); and a circuit analyzer.
Conducting the Inspection
The UPCS-V protocol directs inspectors to act with a high degree of professionalism. It also specifies how the inspector must interact with the property owner or agent. In addition to other requirements, the inspector must explain to the property owner or agent how the inspection will be conducted and must have the property owner or agent accompany him or her during the entire time on the property.
Inspectors are expected to follow an inspection sequence. They are expected to examine the building exterior first, then the unit, then the building systems, the common areas, and, finally, the site. All the defects must be recorded in the data collection device and inspectors must take photographs of all “Fail Deficiencies.”
Additionally, units must meet certain fundamental requirements in order to pass inspection. These include requirements related to space and security; illumination and electricity; interior air quality and ventilation; water supply; wastewater conveyance; access; certificates; and amenities.
Inspections are complete when pass or fail determinations are made. The inspection report will be transferred to HUD and the PHA, property owner or agent, and the tenant will receive the inspection report.
Units will not pass UPCS-V inspections until there has been verification that the deficiencies have been corrected. A PHA may verify that the deficiencies have been corrected by using verifiable third-party documentation; visual evidence (e.g., photographs); or self-certification of the repairs with both the owner’s and tenant’s signatures.
PHAs must abate HAP to owners who do not comply by correcting deficiencies within the specified time period, however HAP will not be abated for tenant-caused deficiencies. All abatements must begin on the first of the month following the failure to comply. HAP payments must be terminated if deficiencies are not corrected within certain specified time periods.
Currently, HUD is in the process of conducting a UPCS-V Demonstration. NAHRO is closely monitoring the demonstration to see how the UPCS-V protocol is being implemented and is working with HUD to make sure that any final protocol takes into consideration the viewpoints of our membership. In addition to working with HUD, NAHRO will continue to bring its members the latest developments about the UPCS-V protocol.
The full UPCS-V Protocol Version 1.0 can be found here.
Questions? Please contact Tushar Gurjal.
Aug 15 2016
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