Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment W. Jordan Gillis has issued a memo to tenants of housing privatized under the Military Housing Privatization Initiative, providing an update on the status of the department’s efforts to implement the MHPI Tenant Bill of Rights [https://media.defense.gov/2020/Feb/25/2002254968/-1/-1/1/MILITARY_HOUSING_PRIVATIZATION_INITIATIVE_TENANT_BILL_OF_RIGHTS.PDF]
In February, the Secretary of Defense and the uniformed services secretaries signed the Tenant Bill of Rights providing 15 of the 18 rights set out in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.
The document includes the Department’s pledge to make these 15 rights fully available to all military service members and their families who reside in MHPI housing (MHPI tenants) by May 1, 2020, and to work with MHPI landlords to make the three remaining rights available to MHPI Tenants as soon as possible.
These remaining MHPI tenant rights include access to the housing unit’s maintenance history, and defined processes for both dispute resolution and withholding of rent until disputes are resolved.
In his June 1 memo, ASD Gillis, as the Department’s Chief Housing Officer, announced that the first 14 rights in the MHPI Tenant Bill of Rights are now fully available to MHPI tenants at nearly all installations. He noted that MHPI Tenants will be made aware if an individual right is not yet fully available at the installation where they reside.
In addition, ASD Gillis explained that the Department has made great progress towards implementing the 15th right, which calls for the use of common forms and documents at all MHPI projects, to the maximum extent possible, as well as the other three remaining rights summarized above.
“Many of the initial 14 rights were in place well before the May 1st deadline, but it took longer than expected to obtain needed assurances from MHPI landlords for some rights,” explained ASD Gillis. “I am proud of the effort by the military services and MHPI projects to overcome the challenges of the current operating environment to make these first 14 rights available to MPHI Tenants.”
ASD Gillis promised to provide an update on the status of the remaining tenant rights in the near future, and reminded tenants to raise any MHPI housing questions or concerns to their installation housing office, installation leadership or chain of command.
“We are actively working with the property owners on the remaining rights and have made several incremental steps toward completion. We need additional time, however, to sort through some legal and procedural complexities. We are working as quickly as possible to make these rights available to MHPI Tenants,” ASD Gillis said.
ASD Gillis reaffirmed the Department’s commitment to ensure MHPI Tenants “have access to safe, quality and well-maintained homes” and requested that MHPI tenants remain patient while the Department and MHPI projects work to deliver the full benefit of all 18 MHPI tenant rights, especially given the present national health situation.