Privatized Housing, also known as military housing or on-base housing, was created in 1996. That year, Congress passed the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI), which moved housing from under the control of the military service branch to private companies. This means that prior to MHPI, for example, a Marine Corps family’s home would be managed by the U.S. Navy since the Marine Corps is a branch within the Navy. The Navy’s facilities handled both their facilities for work and family housing. The change was made specifically to improve the housing and quality of life for service members.
Per Paul Cramer, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment stated that the DOD has made it a priority to reform the MHPI to “rebuild tenant trust and help maintain the financial viability of MHPI housing projects per a release from the department. While the DOD has made this a priority, since they are no longer in charge of on-base housing, they have to get the privatized organizations on the military bases to agree. There are currently 14 different companies providing privatized housing on military bases.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included 18 rights of military service members and their families who lived in privatized housing. Fifteen of the rights were released in a signed DOD release in 2020 here. At the time of the release, not all rights were fully available and are yet to be currently fully available. The key of the rights is to clarify what military families can expect for their housing and what privatized housing agencies are to provide for their tenants.
This reform began in response to the military families expressing concerns for mold, lead paint, asbestos, and pest infestations in their homes on military installations. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against privatized housing agencies in regards to these concerns.
Each base/post has adopted a different number of tenant rights, and they are not all the same. Upon arriving at the new location for housing, ensure that you ask for and understand which ones are active.
If the privatized housing agency does not comply with the tenant’s rights, there are recourses set into the bill for the government to act on the tenant’s behalf. It is unclear what the recourse is, but there has been discussion of the right to withhold rent until disputes are resolved and a clear process for this resolution.
The release of the updated tenant bill of rights has been delayed as of this writing until September 30th per a recent update from the Defense Department. While the DOD has decided on the 18 tenant rights, it has not had all 14 housing companies agree yet.
If you have lived or live in military housing, what do you think of the adoption of the tenant bill of rights? Do you feel represented or protected?