U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today issued the following statement regarding the Department of Defense’s recently released Military Housing Privatization Initiative Tenant Bill of Rights:
“We are glad to see the Department of Defense is taking steps in the right direction to ensure our military families have basic tenant rights and fair treatment by housing companies. Unfortunately, it feels like we are seeing a pattern of moving two steps forward, one step back when it comes to fixing our broken military housing system.
“The Department’s proposed Tenant Bill of Rights does not go far enough to protect our military families. The FY20 National Defense Authorization Act was clear - this Bill of Rights should include three basic items: the right to dispute resolution, the ability to withhold rent, and access to a home’s maintenance history. Additionally, the Department led our military families to believe these protections were in the Bill of Rights when they circulated a draft for comment as early as May 2019 with those items included. This goes directly against the promises made by the Department and the housing companies that they would work to regain the trust of our military families.
“Considering we made our position clear at the numerous hearings we held last year and in our initial version of the Defense Authorization bill back in May 2019 - and they were enacted into law on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis - we are extremely disappointed to see these glaring holes. We prioritized meaningful reforms like these in our bill because they give military families due recourse and force the Department and housing companies to be accountable to the families they serve. The Department’s release is yet another missed opportunity.
“We will continue to work with the Department of Defense to ensure these protections are incorporated in the Tenant Bill of Rights, and if necessary, take additional steps in the FY21 defense authorization bill. There is clearly still a lot of work to be done - not just on this Bill of Rights but through the entire privatized military housing system. But getting this done right is essential - and it needs to be completed quickly. We are watching and waiting.”