REAC issued a string of rule changes in the first half of 2016 that will have a significant negative effect on REAC scores. Even close observers of REAC have expressed surprise and concern over these changes, and some even question their legality. Several important documents have been published since February, with each one generating greater confusion and concern than the one before.
It started in February with a 180 degree reversal of REAC’s policy on units with known infestation by bedbugs. Inspectors were previously prohibited from entering these units – they are now required to inspect such units that are included in the random sample. Just a few days later, REAC published changes to inspector rules of conduct. These changes caused confusion over the rights of a property to have expert representation during an inspection.
In May, REAC issued seven pages of “clarifications” that actually altered long standing policies, with mixed effect. This document featured a few very positive changes and at least one that could create a scoring drop of up to 25 or 30 points for a property where the staff has caulked gaps in breaker boxes to avoid the exposed wires defect. Where breaker boxes have been caulked, these will now be cited as a defect.
The stated purpose of the May notice was to “minimize inspector variance,” but it was followed in less than 60 days by the most recent notice - considered a bombshell by REAC critics – opening the door to more subjective judgment by inspectors. This document effective abandons REAC’s long standing principle that inspectors are to strictly adhere to specific, objective definitions, and calls for inspectors to make aesthetic judgments about the quality of repairs that have been done. REAC inspectors are now permitted to cite deficiencies for repairs that simply “do not look right,” creating an even greater opportunity for inspector variance.
Rumors also abound on additional changes in the works for 2016. These include reforms in the LQA process and the issuance of a new Compilation Bulletin by year end to summarize all these recent changes into one comprehensive document.