Service members living at all Army installations with privatized housing now have all 18 of their tenant bill of rights, Army officials said.

The tenant bill of rights was fully implemented as of Sept. 30 at all the Army’s Residential Communities Initiative partner installations, said Army spokesperson Ellen Lovett.

Across the military, 14 provisions of the tenant bill of rights were implemented in June 2020, but the last four have required more negotiations with the privatized housing companies over the past 16 months.

The remaining four provisions included a dispute resolution process; a universal lease; a process for withholding rent during dispute resolutions; and providing a tenant with seven years of a unit’s maintenance history.

Navy officials announced this summer that they have fully implemented all 18 provisions of the tenant bill of rights at all Navy and Marine Corps installations with privatized housing. That included rolling out the universal lease framework for renewing or prospective new tenants.

Information was not available from the Air Force at publication time about whether that service has implemented all the tenant bill of rights provisions at all of its privatized housing communities. But in July, Air Force officials announced, “With a few exceptions, the Air Force expects all 18 tenant rights to be available to tenants in all Air and Space Force housing programs by the end of fiscal 2021.”

In a response to Military Times, defense officials said “nearly all” of the privatized housing companies have agreed to implement all 18 tenant rights in their privatized housing communities. “The department will continue to pursue agreements not yet reached,” said DoD spokesman Pete Hughes, in an email response. “Tenants should contact their installation housing office to confirm the rights fully available to them.”

The Defense Department has issued all policy guidance necessary to implement all the rights for tenants living in privatized family and unaccompanied housing at all military housing privatization projects, he said.

“However, as Congress recognized, retroactive application of the requirements at existing projects requires voluntary agreement by the respective [military privatized housing] company; the department cannot unilaterally change the terms of the complex, public-private partnerships that established the [military housing privatization projects],” he said.

The tenant bill of rights was created under the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that service members and their families have safe, quality and well-maintained housing.

It was part of comprehensive reform provisions to address pervasive issues with mold, rodents and other health, safety and environmental hazards in privatized military housing.

Military families called for a dispute resolution process and a process to withhold rent if the landlord doesn’t fix the problems. Families testified about frustration over inability to get some of the private companies to fix the problems, and the lack of assistance from their military leadership on some bases.

DoD and service officials have taken a number of steps to improve response to maintenance requests, to improve accountability and to respond more quickly to residents’ concerns. For example, many installations have hiring housing advocates that are independent of the privatized housing landlords.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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