I was asked recently by a real estate agent what the FHA rule for security bars was so I decided to share my answer with you in case you’re interested. Loans with FHA financing are more restrictive and can potentially cause problems with the appraisal which can delay the closing. I’m going to review the HUD guidelines for homes with security bars so that you will be prepared if you find yourself in this situation.
As I stated in a previous post, HUD guidelines are concerned with the Minimum Property Requirements of a property which include safety, soundness, and security. As crazy as it sounds security bars falls in the safety category rather than security. This is because they relate to the health and safety of the occupants. According to HUD handbook 4150.2:
Bedroom windows with security bars require a quick release mechanism for emergency egress. If not so equipped or inoperable, condition the appraisal on a “required repair”.
While the handbook mentions bedroom windows it is a good idea that any window that does not meet the HUD guideline be corrected, specifically those rooms where the only exterior access is through a window. Most of the homes that I see with security bars do not have a quick release mechanism. They are bolted to the window frame and there is no way to quickly remove them in case of a fire or other emergency, which could result in a death. Security bars must also comply with local city fire codes so if you are unsure you may want to check with your local jurisdiction to see if they meet their guidelines.
In situations where windows have security bars, but the room has other exterior access such as a door, then they most likely will not have to be removed because occupants can get out of the house through the door. The concern with bedrooms is that the window is typically the only way to get out of the house so it is very important that this be corrected. During the appraisal inspection the appraiser will note if security bars are present and if they do not have the quick release mechanism then the appraisal will require this to be corrected, which can mean a couple of things including either replacing the bars with ones with a quick release mechanism or removing the bars. If the seller or buyer do not wish to replace the bars because of the inconvenience or expense then they can be removed altogether, which can be the easiest alternative. They can be removed before the home is listed for sale so it is not even an issue with the appraisal. I hope this clears the air about this common FHA requirement.
So what are your thoughts on security bars on homes with FHA/HUD financing? If you have any other appraisal concerns on FHA loans let me know and I’ll do my best to help you.