MOAA-backed passages in the annual defense authorization act will help clear some of the final hurdles faced in the implementation of a “tenant bill of rights” for those in military housing, which has been in process for more than a year.
The FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) doesn’t mention the bill of rights by name, but it includes passages targeting three of the rights that have yet to take shape despite their inclusion in the FY 2020 NDAA. These rights – access to maintenance history, process for dispute resolution, and withholding of rent until disputes are resolved – were not enumerated in the initial bill of rights signed by then-Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and the service secretaries because “standardized, formal processes” had yet to be developed.
This year’s NDAA included passages directed at those rights:
- Landlords must provide prospective tenants with a maintenance summary dating back seven years, and must do so at least five business days before the lease is signed.
- If a tenant requests more detailed maintenance history on a given topic or over a select time period, the landlord must provide it within two business days.
- Current tenants may request the above maintenance history and should receive it within five business days.
- If, after the dispute resolution process, a landlord is required to take action a tenants’ rent will be reduced by 10 percent for every five business days after any missed deadlines to act. This is one of many updates to the dispute-resolution process codified in the FY 2020 NDAA (read the existing law here).
- The dispute-resolution process will be assessed annually, with results broken out by installation.
The NDAA also includes expanded inspection requirements to government-owned military family housing and requires an audit to track medical conditions of residents in privatized military housing.
MOAA has supported these and other reforms to the housing process and will continue its work in 2021 to ensure the full tenant bill of rights is adopted and other housing issues are addressed.