Leaders Sign Tenant Bill of Rights for Military Families

Leaders Sign Tenant Bill of Rights for Military Families

Photo by: U.S. Army

A tenant bill of rights that commits the Defense Department to ensuring military families living on-post receive quality housing and fair treatment has been signed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the leaders of the Army, Navy and Air Force. 

The Military Housing Privatization Initiative Tenant Bill of Rights, which includes the signature of Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, comes after widespread reports of poor maintenance, black mold, pest infestations and other issues in privatized military housing.

“The Department of Defense is fully committed to ensuring our nation’s most valued resource—its military service members and their families—have access to safe, quality, and well-maintained homes and communities on DoD installations,” the bill of rights states.

The document, which will be in full effect May 1, includes 15 rights for military families. The DoD is still working on three additional rights.

They include the right to live in a house and community that meets applicable health and environmental standards; a house that has working fixtures, appliances and utilities and a community with well-maintained common areas and amenity spaces; and a lease with clearly defined rental terms.

Residents also have the right to a “plain-language” briefing before signing a lease; the right to report inadequate housing standards to the landlord, chain of command and housing office without fear of reprisal or retaliation; and the right to have access to an electronic work order system that allows tenants to request and track maintenance or repairs.

The Army has more than 86,000 privatized homes on its installations, and the service has worked for months to fix on-post housing. Senior Army leaders, including McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, have pledged to continue addressing the issue.

“It is our responsibility to provide housing, not simply to code but also to quality,” McCarthy said in December during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, adding, “We owe it to the 45% of our force who live on-post.”

Since March, the Army and Army Materiel Command, which is leading the housing effort, have implemented several initiatives to improve housing. These include visits to all housing units, establishing 24/7 hotlines at every installation, hosting quarterly town hall meetings led by installation leaders, hiring more than 100 additional staff members for installation housing offices, and creating mobile apps to help residents submit and track work orders.

Army leaders also sought feedback from soldiers and their families; more than 25,000 residents filled out a satisfaction survey in July.

To read the full bill of rights, click here.