HUD Secretary Ben Carson

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s self-described plans to “drastically” cut the amount of advance notice of inspections that it provides private owners of HUD-subsidized apartments and public housing authorities — to 14 calendar days from as many as 120 days now — should not “substantially” change the way affordable seniors housing operators maintain their properties, Colleen Bloom, director for housing operations at LeadingAge, told McKnight’s Senior Living.

HUD announced the change on Wednesday. It will become effective 30 days after publication. Then, HUD employees and contract inspectors will give property owners 14 days’ notice of an upcoming inspection. If an owner declines, cancels or refuses entry for an inspection, then a score of zero will be recorded for the inspection. If a second attempt results in a successful inspection within seven calendar days, then the resulting score will be recorded.

“It’s become painfully clear to us that too many public housing authorities and private landlords whom we contract with were using the weeks before their inspection to make quick fixes, essentially gaming the system,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson in announcing the change.

Bloom, however, said that nonprofit Section 202 housing owners historically have received the highest scores from HUD’s real estate assessment center, or REAC.

“This announcement of a planned standardization of REAC inspection notification timeframes will not substantially change the way that our members do the work of maintaining their properties,” she said.

Nonetheless, Bloom said, some property owners may have concerns about how HUD will score previously planned and HUD-approved rehabilitation, renovation or replacement of major systems, such as elevators, which can take longer than three weeks.

“In the past, these were sufficient grounds to delay an inspection until the work was completed,” she said. “Going forward, it may be that HUD staff can ensure that such elements are reviewed but not scored to the detriment of the property.”

HUD also is planning a series of listening sessions where it will gather input about a planned program to test new approaches to inspecting HUD-assisted properties. The first sessions are planned for Philadelphia, Fort Worth, TX, Atlanta, Detroit and Seattle.

“Our members and/or staff from the national and state level will be participating in as many of the listening sessions as possible,” Bloom said. “LeadingAge plans to be active and supportive stakeholders in working with HUD so that inspections of properties achieve their goal of ensuring quality living environments.”