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HUD releases new Fair Housing Act design and construction requirements

First update of ‘safe harbors’ in 15 years provides better clarity for design and construction firms.

January 11, 2021 |

Courtesy Pixabay

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has adopted five new safe harbors for new multifamily housing projects.

These safe harbors apply to instances where there are conflicts between applicable code and FHA requirements. Safe harbors often lag behind new codes and standards, so these updates should reduce confusion for architects and contractors.

Usually, where there is a conflict between an FHA requirement and applicable code, the most stringent requirement takes precedence. There are instances, though, where there is a conflict with neither requirement being more stringent than the other.

Safe harbors provide guidance to the design and construction industry to sort out such conflicts. A safe harbor must be applied by the entire design and construction team in order to establish that the housing project complies with FHA requirements.

To stay current with new versions of codes, HUD changed its rulemaking requirements on how and when it can adopt new safe harbors. Now, the department may propose a new safe harbor by Federal Register notice with a 30-day public comment period. This will allow HUD to more quickly adopt updated standards and prevent conflicts between FHA requirements and codes.

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