Complying with HUD's federal Fair Housing Act just got a little easier for multifamily builders. HUD agreed to recognize the International Builders Code (2003 edition) as a safe harbor for compliance with the accessibility requirements of the federal Fair Housing Act.

“Multifamily developers now have a reliable means to comply with the federal law,” says Jeff Inks, NAHB's assistant staff vice president, codes and standards. Without the endorsement, builders and designers can't verify that they are in compliance with the federal law and are open to costly legal action.

Under the Fair Housing Act, all new multifamily properties with four or more units—for rent and sale—constructed for occupancy on or after March 13, 1991, must comply with the accessibility guidelines.

HUD's decision “makes our job easier in that instead of using three or four different code resources, we will now be able to find everything we need through just one resource,” says Keith Brown, production manager for Perlman Architects, a Henderson, Nev.-based firm. “It saves us on time and confusion.”

NAHB led a similar initiative to secure the safe harbor endorsement of the 2000 edition of the IBC and plans to do the same when the next edition is released in 2006. “With each successive edition of the building code, we will be seeking a safe harbor endorsement,” says Inks.