REAC Implements New Inspections Process During Pandemic
In response to the nationwide health crisis associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center recently released Inspector Notice 2020-01, which establishes guidance to all Uniform Physical Condition Standards (UPCS) inspectors who conduct physical inspections of HUD-assisted and insured properties.
The REAC inspector notice makes it clear that safety comes first and details specific requirements for both the REAC inspectors and site representatives. We’ll go over the protocol to be used when inspectors schedule the call, how inspectors should monitor for cases of COVID-19, and what to do if residents prefer not to participate in the REAC inspection.
The memo states the inspector will notify the PHA or owner 14 days before the inspection date. During this call, the inspector will ask if there are any COVID-19 cases at the site or if the site is designated for the elderly or serves a majority elderly population. If so reported by the owner or agent, the inspector is to report the inspection as “uninspectable” and inform the Technical Assistance Center (TAC).
Before the inspection, HUD requires a second call to be made two working days prior to the inspection. The inspector will reconfirm with the owner that there are no known cases of COVID-19 during this call. If there have been cases since the last call, the inspector must report the inspection as uninspectable and inform the TAC.
If the reported COVID-19 cases are limited to one or more dwellings, on either the initial or follow-up calls, and all parties don’t agree to continue with the inspection of the remaining four inspectable areas (that is, the site, building exterior, building systems, and common areas), the inspection will be cancelled by the inspector. And if the owner reports non-COVID-19 and other health-related issues, the inspector is required to follow normal REAC protocol and seek additional guidance from HUD, as necessary.
In addition, if the REAC-developed heat map used to asses health risks of a certain region changes to a color other than green on the day of travel, the inspector must cancel the inspection, report the inspection as uninspectable, and inform the TAC.
Safety Procedures During Inspection
During the inspection, the memo lays out the following requirements for inspectors:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as mask and gloves at a minimum are required to be worn throughout all phases of the inspection process.
- On the first day of the inspection, the inspector must ensure that he or she has not tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 30 days, and documentation should be maintained by each inspector.
- If requested by the owner, the inspector must submit to a temperature check each day of the inspection.
- Upon entering each unit in the sample, the inspector must either sanitize or put on new gloves each time and wipe down her equipment according to CDC guidance.
- All owner or agent participants on the inspection are required to wear the minimum recommended PPE throughout the duration of the inspection process, in accordance with local and state directives. When there are no state or local requirements, the owner or representative is required to wear a mask and gloves. If any participant refuses to wear the minimum required PPE, the inspector will inform him that refusal to wear PPE is grounds for stopping the inspection and uploading it as unsuccessful. And if the person still refuses to wear the PPE, the inspector will stop the inspection and notify TAC.
- The inspector is to maintain social distancing throughout the entire inspection. In units, this requirement limits the number of escorts to one site staff member.
- The inspector will recommend that the owner ask the residents of smaller units to step outside the dwelling during the duration of the inspection. If the residents refuse, and the inspector can’t maintain social distances, the inspector won’t enter the unit and will mark the unit in as uninspectable (due to Resident Refusal), and proceed to the RAPID-generated alternate unit, per REAC protocol.
- At the start of each inspection day, the inspector will reconfirm with the owner that there have been no reports of a dwelling with a case of COVID-19. If there’s a case of COVID-19 reported during the inspection period, and not all parties agree to continue the inspection, the inspector will halt inspection of any remaining dwellings and limit the inspection to the remaining four inspectable areas—site, building exterior, building systems, and common areas.
- Throughout the inspection process, the inspector must not lay any inspection equipment, such as computer or cell phone, on any building component, furniture, or resident belonging. In those cases where equipment is set down, the inspector is to wipe down that surface and the equipment.
- The inspector is prohibited from disposing of any PPE in a dwelling unit or site refuse container.
COVID Testing of Inspectors
According to the notice, all inspectors must be tested for COVID-19 prior to their first inspection and every 30 days thereafter until otherwise directed by HUD. All inspectors must maintain proof of a negative test result prior to an inspection for each inspection for a period of 24 months.
An inspector is barred from conducting an inspection after testing positive for COVID-19 within 30 days preceding the start of an inspection until she’s retested and tests negative for COVID-19. All certified inspectors working under contract or by agreement must collaborate with contractors and/or business partners to satisfy HUD’s 30-day COVID-19 testing requirement before conducting inspections. Also, should HUD modify the COVID-19 testing requirement, such as increasing the frequency from every 30 days to every 15 days, all inspectors must adhere to the modified testing requirement.
Practical Pointer: If your site is scheduled to be inspected, you may want to change the Notice of Unit Inspection that you give to residents to explain the safety measures adopted for inspections scheduled during the pandemic. You can adapt our Model Letter: Notify Residents of REAC Inspection, Safety Protocols, below, for this purpose.
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Notify Residents of REAC Inspection, Safety Protocols|