Pay & Benefits

New in 2021: Are your latest housing protections in the tenant bill of rights under threat?

Military housing tenants are still waiting for four of the 18 rights promised as part of a tenant bill of rights, aimed at fixing core issues with unsafe and unhealthy conditions in their privatized housing.

DoD officials gave the privatized housing companies a deadline of Dec. 15 to say whether they will commit to the bill of rights, according to one source. In October, lawmakers were pressing defense officials for more information on what was holding up progress. As of Dec. 15, the senators hadn’t received a response from DoD.

With the transition to a new administration, it’s unclear when the processes will be complete.

But some military housing tenants are seeing incremental progress in getting more of the remaining four provisions: For example, Army officials have started a pilot program testing its system of providing seven years of a unit’s maintenance history to tenants.

Service and Defense Department officials are also “finalizing” the common lease document that will be used for military families across the privatized housing projects. But the remaining two — a dispute resolution process and a process for withholding rent during dispute resolutions — are taking longer.

In June, Defense officials said 14 of the 18 protections in the tenant bill of rights had been implemented in privatized housing communities.

The tenant bill of rights was required by law in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2020 as part of comprehensive reform provisions to address pervasive issues with mold, rodents and other health, safety and environmental hazards in privatized military housing.

“Absent implementation of new oversight and accountability requirements as outlined in the FY20 NDAA, and continued pressure, we worry that the tenuous progress achieved in improving privatized military housing could stagnate or event be reversed over time,” wrote three Democratic senators in an Oct. 2 letter to then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

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