When Do Public Housing Inspections Cross the Line?

With HUD Cuts Looming, Inspection Process May Change

REAC Inspection TrainingWhile many people moving into Section 8 aren’t there for the amenities and lifestyle, residents can usually count on one thing – a safe place to live. Property managers and owners, maintenance supervisors, support staff, office managers, and C-level executives are all responsible, in part, for making sure their properties comply with federal regulations for Section 8 housing. The stakes are high, as inspection failures are expensive and can result in lawsuits and fines, but the rules may be changing under the Trump administration.

HUD Struggles to Balance Landlords’ and Tenants’ Concerns

HUD’s Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) is charged with ensuring “safe, decent and affordable housing,” and REAC peddles information – “accurate, credible and reliable information assessing the condition of HUD’s housing portfolio.” REAC inspections are no walk in the park – fail just one item on the inspection checklist and you’ve got yourself a failed inspection, period.

Failed inspections often come as a surprise to both property owners and tenants, but not always. A loose refrigerator gasket can prompt a violation, and so can exposed wiring and fuse panels. Property owners complain that the process is too harsh, while many Section 8 residents wonder if they and their families truly do have a safe place to live.

For example, a recent survey of HUD housing in Louisville, Kentucky found that 97 percent of units did not meet quality requirements. But landlords pushed back: “The city is very stringent, and we have a fair amount of landlords that stay very unhappy with us because we are too strict,” the local housing authority said. Yet the violations can be real: In 2012, an apartment complex in Austin, Texas was evacuated after a second-floor walkway collapsed. In Spokane, Washington, landlords admit they turn down voucher-holding tenants because the properties remain empty during the long inspection process.

Community Development Programs on the Chopping Block

Meanwhile, HUD itself is facing an inspection of sorts. Donald Trump’s budget calls for a 13.2-percent decrease in funding to HUD, and the agency’s untested secretary, Ben Carson, has been saying why that’s a good thing. “We have to stop the bleeding if we’re going to get healing,” he told a Senate committee.

How will that affect REAC? While one analysis suggested that more than a quarter of a million people could lose housing assistance, the effect on the actual inspection process is still unclear.

Navigating Uncharted Waters

Veteran residential and commercial property inspector Hank Vanderbeek tackles the detail-oriented world of REAC property inspections in a day-long audio conference for Audiosolutionz, “REAC Inspection Training Boot Camp 2017.” Starting with an overview of inspectors and the inspection process, Vanderbeek will dive into particulars on inspection points, cover fire protection, detail commonly misapplied deficiencies and explain big point items for health and safety. Along the way, Vanderbeek will present a dozen case studies.

To join the conference or see a replay, order a DVD or transcript, or read more