HUD REAC Inspections
Prepare yourself for what's involved in a property inspection from HUD's Real Estate Assessment Center.
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The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Real Estate Assessment Center, or REAC, is tasked with providing information about affordable housing properties insured by the department. REAC handles a number of tasks, from analyzing the financial stability of public housing to ensuring the accuracy of income data provided for housing eligibility purposes.
One of the group’s most important duties is related to assessing and inspecting affordable housing communities across the country. REAC conducts approximately 20,000 property inspections every year, and the results of these inspections impact whether or not the community qualifies for continued benefits under its contract with HUD. These inspections are required by the department.
Once an inspection has concluded, the property is given an overall score between zero and 100. This number is the cumulative total of separate numerical scores given based on the community’s site, building exteriors, building systems, common areas, and units. Subtractions may be made from the overall score based on any present health and safety deficiencies identified during the inspection. HUD regularly publishes full lists of inspection results.
For the overall score, anything above a 60 is deemed a passing score. However, the score has additional meaning beyond its pass/fail rating, including when a property will next be inspected:
Score above 90: Inspected every third year.
Score between 80 and 89: Inspected every second year.
Score less than 80: Inspected every year.
Beyond the number, REAC scores also generally have a letter (“a”, “b”, or “c”) attached to the number. The meanings of these are below:
a: No health and safety deficiencies were observed, apart from smoke detectors.
b: One or more non-critical (e.g., non life-threatening) issues were present.
c: There is one or more serious (e.g. fire hazards or other life-threatening) issues that must be immediately addressed.
Scores will also have an asterisk at the end, if inspectors identified issues involving smoke detectors.
While these issues highlighted by the letters are already factored into the overall score, the letter is a useful way to identify properties with issues that need to be addressed.
How Are Properties Chosen for Inspection?
Although properties are generally inspected according to their most recent REAC score, other factors play a part in determining if a community will be selected. These factors include field office inquiries about a property, indicators of potential risk, and historic inspection scores. This means that, even if your property received an 85 last year, a history of scores near the fail mark could mean you receive more frequent inspections until a trend can clearly be identified.
Once a property has been selected, a contracted inspector will notify the property staff 14 days ahead of time, following up two days before the inspection to ensure everything is ready to proceed.
What to Have On Hand
There are several items all inspectors will require when they arrive for the inspection. These include:
Certifications for boilers, fire alarms and sprinkler systems, elevators, etc.
Measurements for all roadways (including parking lots and driveways) and walkways/stairs (in square feet)
Rent roll as of the date of inspection
Site map (generally only for larger properties with multiple buildings)
Lead-based paint report (only if any buildings were constructed before 1978)
What Gets Inspected?
The inspection includes checks of the site as well as the asset’s exterior, common areas, and building systems. A number of units will be randomly selected by a computer system for the inspector to view. Note that a resident may not request a REAC inspector to specifically look at a unit — all units must be randomly chosen.
A nonexhaustive list of inspectable items for each of these sections is provided below.
Fencing, gates, signage, parking lots, playgrounds, retaining walls, drainage, walkways, stairs
Fire escapes, foundation, exterior lighting, roofs, windows, walls, doors
Water, electrical (including emergency power), fire protection, HVAC, sanitation, exhaust, elevators
Garages or carports, amenity spaces, bathrooms, laundry facilities, lobbies, management office, porches and balconies, swimming pools, trash collection areas
Electrical outlets and switches, smoke detectors, walls, windows, ceilings, doors, floors, call-for-aid systems, hot water heaters, bathrooms
Finally, a number of health and safety factors outside of these areas are also assessed. These may include a range of items from air quality to the presence of flammable materials in dangerous areas.
How Does It Work on Inspection Day?
The inspector, along with a designated representative of the property, will inspect the community at the agreed date and time. Prior to the inspection, the inspector will ask a series of questions and request a number of data points about your property.
Checks of common and exterior areas are generally straightforward. Unit inspections may be complicated by the fact that a resident can refuse entry to an inspector. If this happens, an alternate unit will be chosen.
Conducting repairs on inspection day is generally prohibited. If you schedule an elevator to be undergoing maintenance during this day, for example, it will generally be marked as inoperable, which will impact your property’s overall score. There is a very short list of actions you may take during an inspection which may improve your score:
Install a light bulb
Light a pilot light on a gas burner
Plug electric stoves in, if they have been removed for cleaning
Find and install knobs for gas or electric stoves
Plug in bathroom exhaust fans
Inspectors are required to point out any aspects which will negatively affect a score. This is not a time to argue or challenge any facet of the inspection — however, it can be a great opportunity to note any and all factors that you may appeal in writing once a final score is issued by REAC.
What Happens After the Inspection?
After the inspection is complete, issues are reported to the property representative immediately. An owner has 24 hours to address any life-threatening problems, and they must report the repairs (and provide proof) to the department or the inspector no more than 72 hours after the inspection.
If you have an issue with the final score, you may submit a written appeal with evidence, ideally provided by an independent assessment team. While appeals may often bring a property’s score up a few points — potentially to a passing score, especially if the result was borderline — the initial REAC inspector’s assessment should be taken very seriously in determining how best to ensure your property remains safe and provides a healthy environment for your residents.
REAC inspections are an important part of ensuring that affordable housing communities are safe and up to code. The inspections are conducted by contracted inspectors and involve a thorough assessment of the property's site, building exteriors, building systems, common areas, and units. The results of the inspection are given an overall score between zero and 100, with anything above a 60 being considered a passing score. The score also determines how often the property will be inspected in the future. Properties may also be given a letter (“a”, “b”, or “c”) to indicate the presence of any health and safety deficiencies. Inspectors are required to point out any issues that may negatively affect the score, and owners have 24 hours to address any life-threatening problems. If an owner has an issue with the final score, they may submit a written appeal with evidence.