Exclusive: Air Force to push Congress for military housing tenant bill of rights

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Aiming to grant military households far higher say to problem hazardous housing, the U.S. Air Force informed Reuters Monday it would push Congress to enact a tenant bill of rights permitting households the ability to withhold hire or break leases to escape unsafe circumstances.

FILE PHOTO: Assistant Secretary of Defense For Sustainment Robert McMahon; Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and Environment Alex Beehler; Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations, and Environment Phyllis Bayer; Assistant Secretary of Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy John Henderson testify earlier than Senate Armed Services subcommittees on the Military Housing Privatization Initiative in Washington, U.S. February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

The proposed measure, outlined in an interview on the Pentagon by Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff David L. Goldfein, follows complaints from military households who say they’re typically powerless to problem personal business landlords once they encounter harmful mould, lead paint and vermin infestations.

“Clearly there are areas where we have issues,” Goldfein mentioned.

Added Secretary Wilson: “That could put a little more leverage into the hands of the renters.”

The Air Force push provides to a drumbeat of reforms to emerge in current weeks following a Reuters sequence, Ambushed at Home, that documented shoddy housing circumstances at bases nationwide and described how military households are sometimes empowered with fewer rights than civilian tenants.

Read the sequence Ambushed at Home at reut.rs/2t1Y2UA

Wilson mentioned the Air Force is actively working with the Army and Navy to push a tenant bill of rights that may give military households a stronger hand in housing disputes. She desires to strengthen the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a legislation that features energetic responsibility housing protections. As one instance, Wilson proposed increasing the act to enable base households to finish their lease or withhold hire if their landlords fail to right well being and security issues.

Beyond that effort, she mentioned wing commanders of every U.S. Air Force base have been directed to examine all 50,000 privatized household housing models within the pressure’s portfolio by March 1. She cited housing breakdowns at Air Force bases together with Tinker in Oklahoma, Maxwell in Alabama, MacDill in Florida and Keesler in Mississippi.

In addition, she mentioned, the inspector normal’s workplace will launch a assessment of how Air Force bases reply to housing well being and security complaints.

Last week, the U.S. Army vowed to renegotiate its housing contracts with personal actual property companies, take a look at properties for toxins and maintain its personal commanders accountable for defending residents. And on Friday, the Army issued a letter directing senior commanders to conduct inspections of all housing inside the subsequent 30 days.

The military motion plans observe a Senate Armed Services Committee listening to this month during which members of Congress sharply questioned personal business landlords and Defense Department leaders over circumstances at U.S. bases.

Wilson mentioned the Air Force can also be contemplating working with Congress to renegotiate its contracts with housing corporations to enable the service to withhold all incentive charges from low-performing landlords.

Additional reporting by Joshua Schneyer. Editing by Ronnie Greene

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Source link reuters.com

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