In an October 12, 2011 letter to HUD, and in a December 20, 2011 meeting with senior HUD officials, an NMHC/NAA-led coalition objected to the original guidance, noting that it created confusion about best management practices, hamstrung the efforts of owners and property managers to prevent infestations and failed to meaningfully address the financial issues to the owner and resident related to recurrent infestations. We also objected to the expansive scope, which included FHA-insured properties.
NMHC/NAA also brought Congressional pressure on HUD to make changes to the policy. At our urging, Rep. Robert Dold (R-IL) sent a letter to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan "strongly urging him to work with the apartment industry and others to develop an improved, more balanced approach" to dealing with bed bug infestations. A separate letter from Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH) to Donovan also called on the Department to rescind the notice, noting that the Guidance suggests that HUD-insured properties could be put in non-monetary default for bed bug infestations, even when a property has an ongoing integrated pest management plan in place.
The new Guidance addresses many of our concerns and emphasizes the shared responsibilities between property management staff and residents to prevent or eliminate infestations. Importantly, it allows owners to conduct voluntary inspections and to treat resident's possessions as part of an Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM). Treatment costs may be partially recovered in conformance with HUD’s model lease.
This revised Guidance applies to properties receiving HUD assistance (e.g., project-based Section 8); it does not apply to properties taking Section 8 vouchers. While the new Guidance still applies to FHA-insured properties, it explicitly notes that it does not supersede state and local tenant laws, which dramatically reduces its scope.
In separate action, on February 28, HUD’s Office of Public and Indian Housing issued a notice (PIH-2012-17) that applies to public housing and project-based Section 8 properties and, in HUD’s words, may be of interest to “owners/agents providing assisted housing through the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program.” The Notice “encourages” properties to develop IPM programs that include a resident and staff education component; it did not address any financing issues.
NMHC/NAA met with HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Marie Head last Friday to discuss the Notices. We voiced concern that there are two separate notices on the same subject matter, although HUD maintains this will not be problematic.
We also reiterated our contention that many properties do not have the financial resources to deal with a recurrent or large scale infestations and suggested that HUD needs to work closely with owners to identify sufficient resources without compromising other aspects of the property.