For many of our clients who live on base or in privatized military housing, issues with maintenance requests and other tenant-to-landlord concerns have historically caused major headaches. Although there are established rights for both tenants and landlords, such as the rights put in place in Maryland, legal issues in military housing can be difficult to settle, because local and state law enforcement may not always have jurisdiction over the decisions made in housing provided on a military installation.
If your family is struggling to have maintenance requests and other livability issues addressed by a privatized military housing company, it is in your best interests to seek advice from an attorney experienced in these areas. At Patriots Law Group, we are committed to giving you and your family the best possible legal care and outcomes, no matter your situation.
Luckily, the issues associated with military housing have an official response from the U.S. Military – and positive change is on its way.
On March 6, 2019, representatives from the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Army, and Marines released a draft of the new Military Housing Privatization Initiative Bill of Rights, a document designed to bridge the gap between military families and the private companies that rent out their homes. On May 16, 2019, military leaders met with senior executives from nine companies that manage privatized housing for U.S. military members to present the draft and discuss the impact it will have on future leases.
It is important to note that this document is still in production: the March edition is a first public draft, and the official document has not yet been publicized or ratified. However, the Bill is designed to address and rectify common housing issues that have arisen in all branches of the military, and will soon be rolled out to residents of privatized military housing for approval before it is enacted.
A Reuters investigation from 2018 shined a dismal light on housing issues for military families, from allegations of unaddressed black mold to rodent infestations and more. The costs associated with moving off-base can be too high for many military families to cover, so the issue becomes a choice between dealing with unpleasant housing issues and difficult leasing companies, or forking over the funds needed to move off base.
The new Tenant Bill of Rights seeks to change that.
“No military family should ever have to contend with chronic maintenance issues or concerns such as mold, pests and intrusion in their home,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, in an interview with U.S. Army Public Affairs. “In order to fulfill our obligations to our family members and ensure the readiness of the force, we must demand excellence and responsiveness from all concerned, including our housing partners. The Tenant Bill of Rights is a much needed first step in that direction.”
Based on findings from military investigations prompted by the Reuters report, resident complaints, and resident surveys like the satisfaction survey conducted by the Army from April 23 – May 24 of this year, the Tenant Bill of Rights outlines the following for every military service member and their family members while living in privatized housing.
All residents have the right to:
- Safe, healthy homes and communities.
- An advocate designated by the Installation Chain of Command who can provide advice and support to tenants, and act as an advocate to the landlord.
- Professional, responsive property management services.
- Responsive communications, including multiple, convenient ways to communicate directly with landlords and maintenance staff.
- Prompt, professional repairs, and options to temporarily or permanently relocate to alternative housing if the timeline for life-threatening or emergency repairs requires it.
- Take action against landlords in landlord-tenant disputes, settled by experienced real estate attorneys in accordance with local laws and regulations.
- Withhold BAH payments – by paying to a separate account, not by refusing to pay entirely – while landlord-tenant disputes are in arbitration.
- Clear move-in and move-out procedures and responsibilities, with time and notice to prepare for inspections, paperwork, and other considerations.
- Privacy, with reasonable advanced notice if a landlord is going to enter their home.
- Predictable rent and lease terms through clearly defined rental agreements.
- Not pay non-refundable fees or have rental payments held arbitrarily.
- Bring up any issues with government staff or the Installation Chain of Command without fear of retaliation from the landlord or other parties.
At Patriots Law Group, we understand how critical it is for you to have a home, not just a house. Servicemembers sacrifice so much already, and should not have to sacrifice their home’s security, safety, or livability based on outdated lease agreements with private housing companies. We will continue to monitor the status of the Tenant Bill of Rights.
In the meantime, if you or a family member are facing legal difficulties in regard to a landlord-tenant issue in privatized military housing, we are here to help. The knowledge our attorneys and staff possess concerning the full spectrum of landlord-tenant services will ensure your rights and property – and your family’s safety and comfort – are fully protected.
Give us a call today at 301-952-9000 to see how we can help.