WASHINGTON — Providing quality housing to families is the Defense Department’s highest priority, a DoD official said March 4.
About 30 percent of military members and their families reside in privatized housing on installations. Most of the remaining military personnel live off-post or in barracks for single service members.
In the past, the department “took its eye off the ball” overseeing privatized housing on installations, the official said.
However, the housing today is in much better condition than it was, but more work remains, the official said.
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 inspections.
• Focusing the attention of leadership and landlords on helping residents achieve their rights.
The Tenant Bill of Rights commits the DoD to ensuring that tenants in privatized housing receive quality housing and fair treatment.
The service secretaries joined Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper in signing the Tenant Bill of Rights on Feb. 25. The document addresses 15 of the 18 rights that were set forth in law. The three that will require more time to implement are dispute resolution, providing the maintenance history for each housing unit, and withholding of rent if the housing unit is not in good condition or if maintenance work was not satisfactorily completed, the official said.
The companies that run the privatized housing initiative are willing to implement the last three, the official said. However, there are some financial concerns with lenders and bond holders that need to be addressed.
Although implementation of the last three will be challenging, “we’re working through that and hopefully it will get done quickly,” the official said, adding that the department wants an agreement that will not do more harm than good.
The Tenant Bill of Rights, which goes into effect May 1, includes:
• 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.
For the full Tenant Bill of Rights, download the document at https://media.defense.gov/2020/Feb/25/2002254968/-1/-1/1/MILITARY_HOUSING_PRIVATIZATION_INITIATIVE_TENANT_BILL_OF_RIGHTS.PDF.