On January 30, 2020, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson announced the release of a proposed rule to amend the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. Secretary Carson made the announcement while touring the Clayton Homes Manufacturing Plant in Russellville, Alabama. The proposed rule covers numerous changes to the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards. As described by Secretary Carson, manufactured housing plays a vital role in meeting the nation’s affordable housing needs. The proposed rule is designed to further HUD’s role in protecting consumers, but also encourages a more robust market for manufactured housing.
The proposed amendments to the Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standards provide four main changes to the current regulatory framework:
First, the proposal eliminates the requirement that manufactured home manufacturers receive Alternative Construction approval from HUD when installing certain modern design features not addressed in the current federal building code. This change will allow for more design flexibility and reduce the regulatory requirements needed for the installation of certain features.
Second, the new provisions would require that carbon monoxide detectors be installed in all manufactured homes with fuel burning appliances and all manufactured homes designed for an attached garage or designed to be installed over a basement. HUD expects this rule to not only improve the safety of manufactured housing but it may reduce regulatory costs by creating a single uniform federal standard, rather than having to comply with the current 38 different states and numerous local jurisdiction requirements.
Third, the proposed amendments introduce new standards that allow manufacturers to design and construct homes similar to townhomes. HUD anticipates that this amendment would allow for more optimal use of manufactured homes in urban areas, including Opportunity Zones.
Fourth, the proposal adds or updates a number of standards to increase design flexibility and aligns federal standards with industry practice. The proposed updates and additions include reducing regulatory burdens for sites designed for attached garages and carports. It is HUD’s stated goal that these changes will mitigate the adverse regulatory and economic impact existing under the current rules.
Manufactured housing plays a vital role in meeting the housing needs of Americans. It represents 10% of the country’s single-family housing, providing more than 22 million Americans with housing. The proposed rules, if finalized, provide for increased flexibility in manufactured home design, the potential to expand product offerings in urban areas, the standardization of carbon monoxide detector requirements across the country, and the reduction of regulatory burdens on the industry. HUD is accepting comments on the proposed rule until March 31, 2020. Industry members are encouraged to provide comments to HUD on the proposals.