Privatization of military housing was supposed to provide new and updated housing inventory to the aged housing on many military installations. In the past year, the news has been filled with stories of mold and substandard construction while work orders fell behind. About 30% of military services members and their families live in privatized housing.
Recently, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and the service secretaries joined to sign a Tenant Bill of Rights. This document sets form 15 of the 18 rights that were mandated by law. The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes housing provisions for on base housing. These include a dispute-resolution process, move in/move out procedures, development of a common lease agreement, and the public availability of home-maintenance histories.
The secretaries from the military branches and senior executive from private housing companies are currently meeting quarterly to discuss ways to improve housing. According to a recent press release from the Department of Defense (DOD), providing quality housing to families is the Defense Department’s highest priority. The DOD Official recognized in the past, the department “took its eye off the ball” overseeing privatized housing on installations but said the housing today is in much better condition than it was, but more work remains. The release listed some of the recent improvements:
- The official said some improvements include:
- Publication and implementation of a Tenant Bill of Rights
- Improved communications and transparency with service members, lawmakers and the public
- Additional personnel to oversee the success of housing improvements
- Improved housing inspection
- Focusing the attention of leadership and landlords on helping residents achieve their rights.
In June 2019 a survey was sent to nearly 200,000 residents of privatized housing to provide input on the draft resident bill of rights by CEL & Associates, a third-party consulting firm that administered the feedback collection, tabulation and analysis on DOD’s behalf. The finalized Tenant Bill of Rights goes into effect May 1, 2020. Some highlights are:
- Meeting health and environmental standards and having working appliances and utilities
- Having easy-to-understand leases that outline any additional fees, identify the military tenant advocate, and spell out the dispute resolution process
- Providing prompt and professional maintenance and repair
- Providing common documents, forms and processes for housing units that will be the same for all installations.
Here is a link for The Complete Tenant Bill of Rights
It is encouraging to know that with all the issues in housing that the DOD and Congress are scrutinizing the private housing companies and providing more oversight. Service members deserve to have a safe, healthy home for their families to live in as well as timely maintenance when issues do occur. How have your experiences been with on base housing?
Marguerite Cleveland is a freelance writer who specializes in human interest and travel stories. She is a military brat, a veteran and now a military spouse. Her military experience is vast as the daughter of a Navy man who served as an enlisted sailor and then Naval Officer. She served as an enlisted soldier in the reserves and on active duty, then as an Army Officer. She currently serves as a military spouse. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two sons. Visit her website www.PeggyWhereShouldIGo.com