Missing military tenant bill of rights provisions to be finished next month

Multiple Defense Department officials confirmed this week that June 1 is when the military plans on adding four of the most consequential planks of the new military housing tenant bill of rights.

“There are a few negotiation issues that are going on with the contractors, but I believe our folks who lead this effort are working those and should be in completion by June,” Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, told the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday.

Kelly’s sister service counterparts, Army Lt. Gen. Gary Brito and Navy Vice Adm. John Nowell also confirm that the sections of the bill of rights would be added next month.

On Thursday, top Navy installations officials also confirmed the missing pieces of the document would be settled.

“There are 14 pieces of them that have been executed, or we have agreements with our partners already to implement those,” Todd Schafer, Navy acting assistant secretary for environment, installations and energy told the House Appropriations Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Subcommittee. “The remaining four will be implemented by June. We are already seeing that the standard lease has been approved. We’re now working through state agreements by state. There has to be an addendum because of the different laws and regulations in each state. But we’re making very good progress with that.”

The missing sections have been in the lurch for the past year after being mandated by Congress in the 2020 defense authorization act.

The missing rights are access to the maintenance history of a house, a process for dispute resolution, the withholding of rent until disputes are resolved, and a standard lease agreement.

DoD and military housing contractors have been under considerable criticism for not solidifying those issues since they provisions have the most teeth for families to get results if there is an issue with their house.

In the meantime, the Navy and Marine Corps told Congress they have taken steps to improve military housing. The Marine Corps hired 114 additional installation personnel.

“They are the interface between the tenant and the partner, their role is to be the quality assurance for that command installation to ensure that we have a baseline for when the tenant receives the house to when there’s a complaint to when they check out of the house,” said Lt. Gen. Charles Chiarotti, deputy commandant for installations and logistics. “Those personnel are able to be the government’s voice, the command’s voice on any disputes that may come up, or any differences in that baseline. This is proven to be extremely effective, as we’ve been able to have direct oversight of the conditions of the homes when a family takes over a home.”

Issues with military housing were brought to light two years ago when families came forward with issues of mice, mold and lead paint in their privatized military homes. The housing companies have pledged millions of dollars in updates and remediation.

Congress quickly jumped on the issue, passing more than 50 provisions to improve housing and rights of tenants.

Families are still dealing with housing issues throughout the military, especially with mold.

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