May 2018, Volume 6 Issue 11

Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home

Editorial Note: An error was published in the May issue of The Bridge where we printed that the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) requires perspective borrowers to obtain a home inspection. We apologize for the error and have provided accurate information below in the revised article.

The Office of Housing Counseling and the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes programs work closely together to ensure buyers are aware of and follow steps to maintain a healthy home. 

Since 1998, the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes has been providing grants to state and local governments to identify and remediate lead-based paint hazards in privately owned, pre-1978 housing. The Office also enforces the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule and works with other HUD program offices to ensure compliance with the Lead Safe Housing Rule

Bruce Haber, Director of the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes’ Programs and Regulatory Support Division, emphasizes the high value of a home inspection, which a potential buyer should arrange for during the home purchase process. “FHA does not perform a home inspection,” he notes. Rather, housing counselors now serve as the first line of education through their pre-purchase counseling to inform low to moderate income populations regarding home inspection. 

HUD does not require FHA borrowers to have a home inspection – just an appraisal. It’s important to keep in mind that an FHA appraisal is different from a home inspection and does not replace a home inspection. Appraisals estimate the value of the property for lenders. An appraisal is required to ensure the property is marketable. Home inspections evaluate the condition of the home for buyers.

The Healthy Homes Counseling Toolkit provides an overview of healthy homes issues housing counselors will find useful. It includes three checklists to help educate homebuyers, homeowners, and renters about healthy homes. Becoming educated about a healthy home goes hand-in-hand with the Office of Housing Counseling’s guidance on becoming an informed buyer in all aspects of purchasing a home. 

One of HUD’s most popular educational publications is Everyone Deserves a Safe and Healthy Home, a consumer action guide that highlights eight principles of a healthy home. The guide describes basic concepts for ensuring safe and healthy indoor environments and covers topics from lead, mold, and radon – which can result in lead poisoning – to respiratory infections and other illnesses.

The Stakeholder Guide for Protecting the Health of Children and Families provides a better understanding of the more technical aspects of healthy homes concepts. The guide demonstrates how the range and possible presence of different housing-related concerns are significant. Potential health hazards can be easily overlooked and fall into the “I never would have thought of that” category.

If a client is buying a pre-1978 home, they need to know about lead, their rights, and the rules that offer protection. Housing counselors are encouraged to provide the brochure, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home, for all pre-purchase clients. As a reminder, renters must also receive the disclosure information when they sign a lease for a pre-1978 unit. If a first-time homebuyer wants to talk to someone about lead, a free hotline is available at 1-800- 424-LEAD.

family smiling and laughing outside their home