REAC Database Adjustment to Handle Local Code Issues
Understanding how to utilize the REAC inspection appeal process is one of the critical ways of ensuring that you are getting the full benefits of the protocol applied to your property. An appeal is the final step of the inspection process. It is a step of the process where you can discuss why the standard rules don’t fit your property. For example, in many scenarios, local building codes expressly permit conditions disallowed under the REAC Inspection protocol. The REAC database appeal process is the way to address these discrepancies. However, there are very specifics steps to take.
Utilizing Local Code Exceptions
For example, at a nursing home, in several of the rooms, the windows had been permanently sealed shut due because of specific medical issues. This condition resulted in the deficiency “Blocked Emergency Egress,” and the inspector was correct to do so. However, the local city building code permitted this condition because it was a medical facility, there was a sprinkler system, and 24-hour security and nursing staff. However, identifying the argument was only the first step.
Next, the owner had to consult with a local code official to clarify the exception. The local fire department inspected the nursing home facility and the area cited by REAC. Next, we drafted a letter for the local code official, which listed their findings and clarified how this affected the UPCS Inspection deficiencies. Specifically, the code official reviewed the definition of blocked emergency egress in the inspection code and explained how the municipal-code superseded HUD’s protocol. We combined this statement (on letterhead, signed, with license number) with photographs of each location, and this resulted in an adjustment to the score.
Will We Have to File An Appeal After Every Inspection?
For database adjustments for local code exceptions, it is unlikely the condition will change between inspections. Sealed windows, such as the example above, are likely to be permanent modifications. An approved database adjustment is considered to be a “pre-database adjustment”. This is applied to future REAC Inspections.
On the next REAC inspection, the REAC inspector will cite the issues as usual; the inspector is not allowed to exclude the findings themselves. However, the owner/agent should request that the REAC Inspector add a comment to the inspection. The inspector’s notes can be as simple as a local code issue is possible or previously appealed. Once uploaded to HUD, the citation is removed. If not, the owner may file an appeal afterward.
Don’t Violate Local Code to Meet REAC Standards.
In some cases, properties have violated the local area code requirements to conform to the UPCS/REAC inspection protocol. The desire to meet REAC’s standards without any rebuttal or appeal can result in conditions that are substandard or in violation of local code. The most common occurrence of this is electrical panels that were modified to meet the UPCS/REAC inspection protocol. These panels may have been modified by property staff at the direct advice of REAC inspectors (advice or guidance that should not be offered, but often is) to remove openings, creating a local code issue.
Making any modifications on your own has become riskier than ever. REAC inspectors will be looking for any modifications made to the panel and will assume an exposed wires hazard if they see any significant DIY modifications made to the breaker-panel, such as caulking applied between breakers or around an electric-panel to fill gaps, or sheet metal pieces attached to the panel cover to cover holes or gaps. In short, bad repairs may result in a more costly issue.
Here is the best approach: Rather than attempting to make the electrical panels conform to the UPCS/REAC inspection protocol, get a recommendation from a licensed electrician. If they confirm that the electric-panels are not creating a hazard and installed by the local area requirements, then an appeal would be possible. If a REAC inspector still deems the electrical panel to be deficient after following the advice of your electrician, you could file an appeal using a statement from the electrician confirming that the panels meet the local area code requirements.