Updated HUD Guidance on REAC Inspections During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On November 13, 2020,  HUD issued updated guidance on the inspection of Public and Multifamily Housing projects during COVID-19. This guidance was issued in the form of an updated FAQ.

The FAQ is comprehensive  but following is some of the most relevant guidance for multifamily owners and agents.

  • Properties will be selected for inspection based on county COVID-19 risk factors.  Inspections will generally be scheduled in counties that are considered low risk for six consecutive weeks based on data from Johns Hopkins University and the Harvard Global Health Institute.
  • Public housing projects are not being inspected at this time, except where a PHA has requested an FY2020 PHAS assessment, or under limited circumstances, for developments that require an emergency inspection.
  • It is expected that inspections that were awarded prior to REAC’s suspension of inspections will be conducted by September 30, 2021.
  • At this time, only in-person inspections for UPCS will be conducted. REAC may consider remote inspections in the future.
  • All certified inspectors will be tested for COVID-19 prior to their first inspection and every 30-days thereafter until otherwise directed by HUD. In addition to this testing requirement, REAC is requiring inspectors to:
    • Wear PPE including masks and gloves;
    • Frequently use hand sanitizer;
    • Practice physical distancing; and
    • Follow state and local guidelines.
  • As REAC returns to operations, NSPIRE will be following the overall REAC COVID-19 protocol, with the addition of testing remote video technology in low-risk areas.
  • If a property receives the 14-day notice of an inspection, but the county-level risk changes prior to the inspection, the inspection will be canceled.
  • If a property in a low-risk area has positive COVID-19 cases at the property, the inspection may go forward, if agreed to by the property representative and inspector.
  • It is possible for a property representative to refuse an inspection due to COVID-19 concerns. The guidance in Notice PIH-2019-02/H-2019-04 should be consulted.
  • Inspectors will inquire about any known COVID-19 cases currently at the property. However, no Personally Identifiable Information (PII) will be requested, nor should such information be provided.
  • During a unit inspection, only one escort and the inspector may enter a unit. Physical distancing will be practiced.
  • If tenants refuse to permit the inspector into the unit, the Inspector will follow UPCS protocol for a “tenant refusal” and select another unit. If an inspection does not meet the sample size requirements after exhausting all alternate units, REACs Research & Development division will analyze the results to determine if the inspection results are representative of the physical condition of the property.
  • HFAs that conduct REAC inspections are required to follow REAC’s COVID-19 risk analysis when scheduling inspections. HFAs may begin inspecting properties in low-risk counties on October 5, 2020.

While this outlines some of the major owner/agent related issues addressed in the FAQ, interested parties should obtain and review the complete document.