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Special Considerations for Military Renters

Active duty service-members face a big decision when they receive orders sending them to a new assignment: live in military housing, government-leased housing, or buy or rent a place in the nearby community.

In some situations, that choice is made for you. If there are no vacancies on the installation, you may be forced to find your own housing. On the other hand, if there's ample room on the installation, the local command may require you to live in military quarters.

If you do end up renting a place, be mindful of these unique aspects of being a military tenant.

Government-Leased Housing

The Privatized Military Housing Initiative was developed to provide up-to-date housing for today's military families. But because these facilities are privately managed, the government is not responsible for personal property losses or damages.

Commercial property managers provide a token amount of coverage, but it's a smart move to purchase a cost-effective renters insurance to safeguard your belongings.

Military Housing Allowances

If you're not living in military quarters, you're generally eligible to receive a tax-free, monthly allowance that helps cover your housing expenses. It isn't a blank check — the amount depends on your duty station, pay grade and whether you have dependents or not.

There are three types of housing allowance:

§                            Basic Allowance for Housing. The most common housing allowance — BAH — is calculated separately for each location to let servicemembers afford comparable housing no matter where they're assigned. The amount is recalculated annually. While it can increase if costs in the area rise, an individual servicemember's BAH won't be reduced during their tour.

§                            BAH II. This is essentially a minimum level of BAH that doesn't vary by location. If it's greater than what the BAH formula indicates, you'll receive this higher amount.

§                            BAH Differential. This allowance is for servicemembers who live in single quarters on a military installation and pay alimony or child support. It's the difference between the BAH II married and single rates.

Keep in mind that the amounts are completely independent of what you actually pay for rent. If you pay more, you'll be eating into your regular income. If you can find a home or apartment for less, you'll enjoy a monthly surplus.

An Important Lease Consideration

As a military servicemember, you face several scenarios that could prompt you to move out before your lease has expired, including:

§                            Deployment

§                            Orders to move onto the installation

§                            Permanent Change of Station

§                            Retirement or separation from service

To protect yourself, it's important that your lease include a so-called "military clause" that lets you terminate it in any of these situations. Your installation's military assistance officer can help you draft a clause that gives you the protection you need.


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posted 3/21/2010

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