MARCH 7, 2019 – All four military services of the U.S. Department of Defense are preparing a joint Tenant Bill of Rights in an effort to ensure service members and their families have safe, quality homes and communities, and clear rights while living in them. It is intended to increase the accountability of privatized housing companies by putting more oversight authority in the hands of local military leaders.
All three service secretaries have seen firsthand and reviewed problems in housing units, and the Tenant Bill of Rights is intended to help remedy them by both protecting and empowering service members and their families.
The Tenant Bill of Rights will be enforced through renegotiated leases with the privatized housing companies. The Bills of Rights will be implemented in the coming weeks.
(THE FOLLOWING IS A DRAFT)
MILITARY HOUSING PRIVATIZATION INITIATIVE BILL OF RIGHTS
All Residents of Privatized Military Housing are afforded protections under their tenant lease and Federal, State and Local Residential Landlord and Tenant Law. In addition, every Military Service Member and their Family members residing in Privatized Housing have the following rights:
1. Safe and Healthy Homes and Communities.
Residents have the right to reside in homes and communities that are safe; meet health and environmental standards; have working fixtures, appliances, and utilities; and have well-maintained common areas and amenity spaces.
2. Advocate for Housing.
Residents have the right to a housing advocate, as designated by the Installation Chain of Command, to provide advice and support to tenants and advocate for tenants’ rights before the Landlord.
3. Professional Property Management Services.
Residents have the right to property management services that meet or exceed industry standards and that are performed by professionally-trained, responsive, and courteous customer service and maintenance staff.
4. Responsive Communications.
Residents have the right to multiple, convenient methods to communicate directly with the landlord and maintenance staff, and to receive honest, straightforward, and responsive communications at all times.
5. Prompt Repairs.
Residents have the right to prompt and professional repairs and shall be informed of the required timeframe for those repairs pursuant to the applicable housing privatization agreements when a maintenance request is submitted. If requested repairs are necessary to address an immediate life, health and safety issue, residents shall have the right to be promptly relocated into suitable lodging or other housing at no cost to the Residents until the repairs are completed. If life, health and safety repairs are not completed within 30 calendar days, a Resident shall be offered a no-cost move into an alternative residence on the installation or within the surrounding local community.
6. Dispute Resolution, Mediation, and Arbitration.
Residents have the right to have landlord-tenant disputes concerning repairs, damage claims, and rental payments resolved by a neutral decision maker. A decision in favor of the resident shall include a determination of any reduction in rent owed by the landlord to be paid or credited to the resident in accordance with the applicable state laws and regulations.
7. Withholding of BAH.
Rent payments made by a resident engaged in a dispute that is being heard by the neutral decision maker shall be segregated and not used by the property owner or property manager until the Arbiter’s decision regarding the matter in dispute is made, which may result in a refund to the resident or payment of rent.
8. Move-in and Move-out Procedures.
Residents have the right to be fully briefed by the Landlord on all rights and responsibilities associated with tenancy prior to signing a lease, and a 30-day follow-up to review these responsibilities. Residents have the right, opportunity, and sufficient time to prepare and be present for both move-in and move-out inspections, and to submit necessary paperwork.
Residents have the right to reasonable advance notice of any entrance into their rental units by a landlord, except in cases of an emergency.
10. Predictable Rent.
Residents have the right to clearly defined rental terms in the lease agreement. Other than the annual BAH adjustment, Residents have the right to written notice prior to any rent adjustment.
Residents have the right to not pay non-refundable fees and to not have rent payments arbitrarily held.
12. No Reprisal.
Residents have the right to engage government housing staff or the Installation Chain of Command regarding housing issues without fear of reprisal.