Changes made to privatized housing initiative

The Military Housing Privatized Initiative (MHPI) allows the military to partner with the private sector to build and improve military housing. The MHPI is considered a quality of life initiative that supports military readiness. In fiscal years 2020 and fiscal years 2021, Congress made extensive changes to the MHPI. Three changes service members should be aware are: (1) the Tenant Bill of Rights; (2) a Universal Lease; and (3) the Dispute Resolution Process. These three changes to the MHPI are briefly explained below.

Tenant Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

The Tenant Bill of Rights is a list of rights afforded to all military members and their family members, who reside in on-post housing. Full benefit of 15 rights went into effect on May 1, 2020. Among the 15 tenant rights are:
• The right to live in military housing that meets health and
environmental standards;
• The right to have multiple, convenient methods to communicate directly with the landlord maintenance staff and receive responsive communications;
• The right to receive prompt and professional maintenance and repair; and
• The right to access a Military Tenant Advocate or a military legal assistance attorney.
Tenants also have important responsibilities for which to be aware. A summary of the responsibilities are:
• Timely report housing deficiencies;
• Maintain your housing unit in good condition… do not be disruptive to other tenants and be responsible for your guests; and
• Allow the landlord reasonable access to the premises to make repairs.

Together, the Tenant Bill of Rights and Responsibilities should contribute to quality military housing and a positive housing community under the MHPI.

Universal Lease

The Universal Lease is a standard lease for military housing. The Universal Lease is required by Congress under the MHPI and became effective on June 1, 2021. The Universal Lease includes terms for the on-post housing landlord and military tenant contract. It addresses applicable state law not in the standard lease. It also includes the Tenant Bill of Rights and Tenant Responsibilities, as well as the Dispute Resolution Process. This standard lease should make terms, responsibilities, and legal requirements between on-post housing landlords and military tenants more transparent and foreseeable.

Dispute Resolution Process

The Dispute Resolution Process, as written in the Universal Lease, is available to eligible tenants in all privatized military housing projects. The dispute process consists of both informal and formal dispute procedures. The Informal Dispute Resolution starts with use of the landlord’s procedures as provided in the lease, followed by involvement of the Military Housing Office (MHO)/Installation staff, if necessary. It could cover any dispute between the landlord and tenant. The Garrison Commander is the major player in the informal process. The scope of Formal Dispute Resolution is to resolve housing disputes over rights and responsibilities contained in the lease. The Formal Dispute Resolution requires more formal procedures that are not detailed in this article, but contained in the lease. Both the informal and formal dispute process allow the military tenant to resolve housing disputes promptly and amicably.

For more information on the MPHI and the additions highlighted in this article, the Fort Irwin Legal Assistance Office, in collaboration with the Fort Irwin Housing Services Office, will host a workshop on the Tenant Bill of Rights and Responsibilities & Overview of the Universal Lease and Dispute Process at 9:30 a.m., Oct. 21, 2021, at Sandy Basin. Space is limited, but this workshop will be recorded for future broadcasting. You may also drop by the Legal Assistance Office at Bldg. 230, or call 760-380-5321, if you would like to speak with an attorney. Hours of operation are 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Monday-Friday, closed Thursdays from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

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