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Old 10-18-2011, 10:31 AM
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Default Hand Railing

I'm being told by a client that railings are no longer required to meet FHA guidelines for steps AT ALL. They supposedly have a mortgage letter they are gonna upload but have not yet. Other than minimum heights, has the requirement been eliminated entirely? I called out a home recently as the front steps and wood deck had no hand railings and were of considerable height. To me that's a safety hazard, especially for kids and the elderly.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:29 AM
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That Mortgage Letter came out about 4-5 years ago about hand rails, don't remember the specifics though, thought it said if it was only a few steps FHA wasn't concerned.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:30 AM
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The latest and greatest, from: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/docu...?id=aprval.pdf



002
It was stated that handrails and trip hazards are cosmetic. Wouldn’t these items be health and safety issues?
The appraiser must always be mindful of health and safety issues and report what is readily observable. The missing handrails or trip hazards are property conditions that no longer require automatic repair for existing properties but should be reported by the appraiser. In these instances, lender discretion and prudent underwriting will determine whether or not a repair is advisable. For example, a stairwell or staircase comprised of eight (8) or nine (9) risers without a handrail would probably pose a safety risk.
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:37 AM
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Thanks for the input. It's kind of a grey area. For example the front steps of my subject are 3 fairly steep steps that, at a minimum, would be a safety hazard for kids or elderly. I've seen and noted the items posted above in my search prior to posting the question but I thought there was more to it than that. So at this point for something of this nature I should just make the report as is, note my feelings on the railing issue, insert photos, and leave it up to the UW/client?
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Old 10-18-2011, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta85 View Post
Thanks for the input. It's kind of a grey area. For example the front steps of my subject are 3 fairly steep steps that, at a minimum, would be a safety hazard for kids or elderly. I've seen and noted the items posted above in my search prior to posting the question but I thought there was more to it than that. So at this point for something of this nature I should just make the report as is, note my feelings on the railing issue, insert photos, and leave it up to the UW/client?
Yes, note it and move on, it's not a required repair. But carpet and vinyl aren't required either, plywood is an acceptable flooring for FHA. It may be a marketing issue, but it's not a required repair.
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:33 PM
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Appraisers report, underwriters decide.

Quote:
....For example the front steps of my subject are 3 fairly steep steps that, at a minimum, would be a safety hazard.....
The issue here is most likely not a lack of a handrail but most likely a building code violation of the rise and run of the steps which creates the hazard.
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Old 10-19-2011, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Delta85 View Post
Thanks for the input. It's kind of a grey area. For example the front steps of my subject are 3 fairly steep steps that, at a minimum, would be a safety hazard for kids or elderly. I've seen and noted the items posted above in my search prior to posting the question but I thought there was more to it than that. So at this point for something of this nature I should just make the report as is, note my feelings on the railing issue, insert photos, and leave it up to the UW/client?



In my opine, FHA tried to put some common sense to the issue, but left it as a grey area, sort of.



There are many older homes that may have no railings/hand rails on the front porch that has 3-5 risers. Is that really a safety issue? Na.



Now, what if the subject has a two story deck or a two story porch or a interior two story foyer area without handrails or railings? Safetey issue? Yes.
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Old 10-19-2011, 07:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michigan CG View Post
Appraisers report, underwriters decide.



The issue here is most likely not a lack of a handrail but most likely a building code violation of the rise and run of the steps which creates the hazard.
It could be that the dwelling was built 60 years ago when no building codes were in effect. Are you going to require them bring the entire dwelling up to code? I don't think so. The only thing FHA cares about when it comes to code it the water heater.
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Old 10-20-2011, 08:28 AM
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Code compliance is not an FHA requirement. Hand rails are not required UNLESS it is a safety issue. For me, a steep set of stairs without a hand rail is a safety issue. I would report it and let the underwriter sort it out.

Oh yeah....another fine reason not to do FHA appraisals.
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Old 10-26-2011, 02:39 PM
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Quote:
... lender discretion and prudent underwriting ...
Two reliable forces of judgement.
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