The REAC Impossible Newsletter
Volume 1, Number 5, May 2020
Head-Scratcher of the Month
To Volunteer for NSPIRE, or not

By now you have probably received an email letter from REAC inviting you to participate in the NSPIRE inspection demonstration project as a volunteer. You are wondering if it is a good idea to participate. You ask yourself will the benefits be worth the disruption to your residents and added expense. The short answer is probably not!

Let us look at what is at stake for not participating. Nothing! There are no penalties. You will not be branded as uncooperative thus inviting threatening and callous treatment. Your phone calls and letters will still be answered just as always; that is, on occasion, depending on your importance. 

REAC is looking for volunteers so it can get the bugs out and eventually have a fair and equitable inspection protocol. NSPIRE is HUD answer to media and Congressional concerns that HUD was not identifying troublesome properties and not keeping residents safe. That despite over 20 years’ experience with conducting REAC inspections. NSPIRE will be managed by the same overseers who could not effectively manage the UPCS inspection program. 

Under NSPIRE the same items will be inspected as under UPCS, with a few tweaks, and a few added items for good measure. The real difference will be defect scoring; more emphasis will be placed on unit defects. Where units averaged 35% of the UPCS score, it will now comprise 50% or more under NSPIRE. That inoperable sink stopper will be worth more under NSPIRE. Last I knew REAC was conducting NSPIRE inspections even though it had not developed defect scoring. NSPIRE inspections are being conducted yet are not scored!

Federal Register (FR), Vol. 84, No. 162, announcing NSPIRE was published August 21, 2019. The FR says that “The shift to the National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate (NSPIRE) will further one of HUD’s highest priority strategic outcomes - resident health and safety.” I am confused! You mean the reason for the phasing out of the UPCS inspection program was because resident health and safety was not a high priority? Apparently so! 

It didn’t require much insight to understand that resident health and safety was not high enough a priority under UPCS; when, for example, a parking lot trip hazard is a 5 + point penalty, whereas a trip hazard in an apartment is worth zero points, or a tire rut in the grass is worth up to 7 points, yet a defective smoke detector is worth zero points, or a missing Carbon Monoxide detector is not even a defect. People were dying from CO inhalation, yet it took numerous news article reported deaths, the HUD Inspector General, et al to convince REAC to come to terms with its failing inspection program. The people who will administer NSPIRE will be the same people that administered UPCS.  Hopefully, there will be closer oversight of NSPIRE by the Office of the Secretary and others this time around.

The NSPIRE invitation letter email you receive will read something like this:

Dear Property Representative:
Safe and Decent Apartments, 800001234,  is due for a UPCS inspection this year. Since your property scored  95  with the last inspection, you have an opportunity to volunteer your property for an NSPIRE (National Standards for the Physical Inspection of Real Estate) demonstration.
If you volunteer  Safe and Decent Apartments  for an NSPIRE demonstration, this means a UPCS inspection will not be required this year or next year as a minimum.
So, what are the benefits of volunteering? See below:
  1. Your property will not receive a UPCS inspection this year or during the demonstration period.
  2. Your previous inspection score of 95 will remain the inspection of record during the 2-year demonstration period.
  3. When the inspector comes out to do the demonstration field work (inspection) it will be collaborative. Your property escort can provide feedback to our inspector about the new standards.
  4. There will be no need to invest any money to prepare your property for an upcoming REAC UPCS inspection.
  5. You can use this money to better improve the quality of life for the residents.
  6. There is no need to prepare since the goal is to review the new standards.
  7. The sole purpose of this demonstration is to test and continue the development of the software while identifying deficiencies.
  8. Remember there will not be a score or an inspection report associated with the NSPIRE demo.
** The only exception is if any EHS deficiencies are observed. A ticket will be left and those deficiencies must be mitigated as required with any REAC inspection.
Thank you for your partnership with HUD. If you have any questions, please contact me by phone and/or email.
If you’d like to learn more about NSPIRE and the NSPIRE Demonstration please access the website below.
If you’d like to register, please let me know as soon as possible by responding to this message so I can push this application forward quickly, and let you know when your registration process has been completed .
You can also register your property at the link below.
Please keep up the good work and providing REAC with quality properties and assuring residents live in “Decent, Safe, and Sanitary Housing in Good Repair”.
The intent of this email is to help improve your inspection skills and knowledge, and assist you in continuing to provide REAC with quality properties. Our goal at PIH-REAC is to provide the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) with accurate, consistent, and reliable inspection results that assures the property is decent, safe, and sanitary, and also in good repair for all residents. Thank you for assisting us in accomplishing this goal.
Tomorrow, I will call  Pete Best , owner, at  800-400-2000  to answer any questions you have and to discuss volunteering for NSPIRE. If I should be contacting a different person, please provide me their name and phone number.

The REAC letter says in #6 “no need to spend money to prepare.” Meaning you are being set up for failure. They know an unprepared property will do poorly/fail. And if you "fail" they will do a full REAC inspection.  You may up getting another REAC inspection sooner than you are scheduled.

What is not mentioned in the email from REAC is: "If property conditions warrant, HUD reserves the right to order and execute a UPCS inspection and apply any available remedies, sanctions, or other actions as determined by the results."
REAC has hundreds of volunteers and has had 20 years to "test" inspection protocols and still could not get it right. The Demo project is same wolf wearing different clothing. Do not waste your time, your money, and your residents patience volunteering for NSPIRE.

Hank Vanderbeek
HUD released updates to their COVID-19
HUD released updates to their COVID-19  Question and Answer document on May 1, 2020 . This updated Q&A addresses both changes to policies and procedures as well as clarifications to existing policies. Some of the updates relate to operational issues, such as:

  • TRACS vacancy claims
  • Emergency evictions
  • Food insecurity concerns
  • Handling income from COVID-19 such as CARES Act unemployment benefits​​​​​​​.

Download the Q&A document and read a summary of the updates from the CDC website, just click here
The REAC Inspection Handbook 2020 Edition
You may have been a big proponent of having a REAC consultant come in and inspect the property, but not all properties can afford that luxury.

Having this up-to-date 198 page book as a resource guide, you will know what the inspector knows, or should know. And you can self-inspect your properties, thus saving you a lot of money!

This book makes your job easier and is easy to use. It has over 200 pictures, charts and diagrams. For most, pictures tell the story.

More importantly, It's current! The rules and guidelines are fully cross-referenced to every reg, rule, policy including many that have not been published. It includes a massively detailed table of contents for very fast lookup. 

This is a great book! It will make your Pre-REAC preparation a no brainer!

Buy either the Kindle and/or the paperback versions. The buy button below goes to the buy page at the REAC Property Consultants web site
REAC Check Inspection Software
Conduct Unit inspections easily, quickly and in full compliance with REAC defect rules.

REACCheck collects current Uniform Property Condition Standards (UPCS) defects in the units, building exteriors, system components, common areas and site (grounds). It includes scored defects by level of severity, photos, work order time entry field, and more.

The software can generate reports quickly and easily in any format: work orders, by defect, defect level, location, by unit, et cetera.

NSPIRE will mandate annual unit inspections reportable to REAC. Get a head start with REACCheck Software.
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