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How to Prepare for an Audit

Written by Katie Rawson, Spectrum Enterprises

When you receive notice that you will be having an onsite audit that will review both the physical property as well as the files; what should you do?!  PANIC!  Once you are done panicking you should prepare for the review.  Ideally, you will be doing all of the things I am about to suggest on a regular basis anyways and if that is the case then you will be in great shape for an audit.   As the very wise Massachusetts monitor Ed Clark says, “We (as auditors) should be able to just show up and as property management you should be ready for an audit at anytime.” Don’t worry we won’t really do that to you. Ed might, but the rest of us won’t. 

The first thing you should do is promptly respond to the company requesting the audit.  It can be very irritating when trying to schedule a road trip when we don’t hear back from some properties.  Second, make sure to carefully read the confirmation letter and any other documentation the auditing company sends to you.  The confirmation letters Spectrum sends out spells out exactly what we will be doing the day of the audit, what will be needed on that day, as well as requests specific documentation.  I cannot tell you how many times we have visited properties and staff is surprised by how we want to test the emergency lights, even though it is explained in detail in the confirmation letter.  Also, make sure you have the documentation requested ready at the time of the audit and some documentation may even need to be submitted prior to the day of the audit.  I regularly have to chase people to get the documentation that we request prior to the audit.  Third, read Cathy Turner’s blog “Talk a Walk” which goes over some physical inspection items that may help give you some preparation ideas.  In addition, make sure the emergency lighting is tested, that you have access to all units, and look out for any major life, healthy, safety items that need attention.  In your notice to the tenants make sure to state the importance of all smoke detectors working properly.  It may also be a good idea to request that tenants bring you a copy of the key if they have changed the locks-nobody likes that surprise during an inspection. Lastly, review the files.  Check to make sure the files are well organized and correct any errors you come across.  If you know the files have a lot of compliance issues you may want to hire a company to review the files prior to the scheduled audit.  This is a service Spectrum would be happy to offer you.

An audit may seem overwhelming but if you keep up with little pieces day to day, you will be ready for an audit at a moment’s notice.  Keep in mind everyone wants this program to work and we should all be doing our best to work together.

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