Smoke Alarms in Federally Subsidized Housing Fail Tests
FHA Consultants recognize there’s little dispute that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms help save lives.
FHA believes the relatively inexpensive devices are considered important safety features. Consultants should take extra precautions to insure the 203(k) remodel includes an inspection to update the home to current fire safety standards.
4000.1 Handbook: Minimum Property Requirements (MPR) – “…all homes insured by FHA be safe, sound and secure.”
A minimum requirement should include upgrading single station smoke detectors to interconnected devices. That action would allow all devices to sound an alarm when one station detects smoke or fire. For the most reliable protection the alarms should be dual technology – ionization and photoelectric type devices and should be replaced (the entire unit replaced) every 10 years. I’m sharing a GOOD ARTICLE HERE about the topic – give it a read.
Recently an ABC Owned Television Station obtained and analyzed data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s inspections of subsidized housing between 2014 and 2019. ABC found more than 11,000 properties, or 41% of all complexes run by public housing authorities or private landlords who receive taxpayer subsidies, were cited for missing, broken or inadequate smoke alarms.
HUD rules say tenants are responsible for ensuring smoke alarm batteries are kept in place and informing property owners of any problems with detectors. Preston Prince, executive director of the Fresno [Cal.] Housing Authority, says informing residents of their rights and responsibilities could help get some repairs made faster.
“I believe families should know their rights and [how] to make the demands,” he told KFSN. “If something’s not working in their unit, they have a right to speak up and more than to speak up, they have the right to a safe house.”
The FHA requires that every property implement all appropriate security measures to protect the house itself and the occupants. FHA inspection criteria necessitate that properties contain the most basic safety features, including lock-and-key and deadbolt locks for every outside-accessible door and functioning locks for all windows.
The FHA does not require security systems be installed in every property; however, for properties that do boast a security system, the system must be in functional condition or the seller must completely uninstall the system prior to the final inspection.
The federal government posts all of its inspection scores and some details about deficiencies, including smoke detector problems, on HUD’s public website and updates the records regularly. ABC reviewed the most recently published data, posted at the end of 2019.