Section 8, a housing program operated by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), imposes mandatory regulations for HUD approved houses and apartments. These regulations extend to handrail requirements on handicapped units that are occupied with tenants who require handrails as a result of disabilities and for standard units as a safety feature.
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Per HUD requirements, any handrails that had been previously installed but are now missing or damaged, must be replaced for the property to stay compliant with HUD rules. If the handrails had been removed or damaged prior to the tenant's decision to rent the apartment or house, the handrails must be replaced or repaired prior to the tenant moving in so the property can remain classified as a HUD eligible property. If the handrails become damaged during the period of time that the tenant resides in the property, every attempt must be made to replace the handrails as soon as possible for the landlord to continue to receive payment from HUD.
Steps and Handrails
Under HUD regulations, any house or apartment that has four or more steps must have a handrail installed to prevent the potential for injury. This rule is regardless of whether or not the tenant has an injury or disability and applies to all HUD sponsored properties. In addition, the handrails must run along the full length of the steps as partial handrails are not considered acceptable under HUD regulations due to the potential for injury.
Porches and Balconies
The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that all porches and balconies have secured handrails and railings that are installed 30 inches or more off the ground. The requirement to have handrails and railings installed in areas that have porches or balconies is necessary to prevent tenants and their guests from accidentally falling from these areas, which can result in serious injury or even death depending on the distance of the fall. HUD also requires that these handrails and railings be inspected on a quarterly basis to ensure that they are secure and are not in need of repair.