News   Reform

DOD Official Says There's Progress on Privatized Housing Improvements

March 6, 2020 , DOD News

Providing quality housing to families is the Defense Department's highest priority, a DOD official said today.

Privatized housing is located on installations, and about  30% of military members and their families reside there. Most of the remaining military personnel live off-post or in barracks for single people.

Two men inspect a ceiling vent in a home.
House Inspectors
Housing inspectors carry out a quality assurance inspection of a home in the Patton Village housing area at Fort Benning, Ga., Nov. 21, 2019, with the aim of having it ready for occupancy by a military family. Fort Benning has made housing inspections much more stringent during the past year as part of a broad effort to improve on-post housing services.
Photo By: Patrick Albright, Army
VIRIN: 191121-A-YH902-262

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 inspection
  • Focusing the attention of leadership and landlords on helping residents achieve their rights.

More on The Tenant Bill of 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 T. 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.

A military officer points at a slide projected behind him.
Housing Resolution
Army Col. Brian K. Wortinger, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson, Colo., talks about the three step family housing resolution process during an update for on-post housing improvement efforts at the base, June 6, 2019.
Photo By: Amber Martin, Army
VIRIN: 190606-A-ON894-003C

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.

A man inspects an HVAC unit.
Team Inspection
A member of the Fort Drum Residential Communities Initiative/Housing Division inspection team inspects a home at Fort Drum, N.Y. The team averaged 11 to 14 home inspections a day during the peak summer moving season.
Photo By: Mike Strasser, Army
VIRIN: 190917-A-ZZ999-008C

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, click here.