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Overseas Housing Allowances

Crowds watch a remembrance day ceremony at the ceramic poppy art installation by artist Paul Cummins entitled 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' in the dry moat of the Tower of London in London, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Crowds watch a remembrance day ceremony at the ceramic poppy art installation by artist Paul Cummins entitled 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' in the dry moat of the Tower of London in London, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Many overseas military bases are located in high-cost areas. Add to this the fact that housing on and off base is often in short supply, and the fact that there are sometimes wild fluctuations between the exchange rate of the US Dollar and foreign currencies and you have a complicated, and sometimes expensive, situation. The military has created an Overseas Housing Allowance to help members deal with these problems.

Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA)

Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) is a monthly allowance paid to service members assigned to an OCONUS PDS (permanent duty station outside the continental U.S., not including Hawaii and Alaska) authorized to live in private housing. OHA defrays the member's housing costs and includes the following components:

  • Rent,
  • Utility/recurring maintenance expenses, and
  • Move-in housing allowance (MIHA) 

Even though your OHA is broken down into a rent and utility/recurring maintenance amount it will appear as one payment on your LES. 

Military members are paid OHA in the exact amount of their contracted rental payment, plus an amount determined by DoD to cover the utility and recurring maintenance expenses for their location. The amount is limited by location, rank, and dependency status.  For example, if Airman Normandy rents a house in England and his rent is £1000 a month, and the local utility/maintenance expenses are £100 a month his paycheck will include OHA in the amount of dollars that equals £1100 (assuming that his rental cap is higher than £1100.) The amount of the rent portion of the OHA payment never exceeds the actual expenses incurred.

If multiple single service members share accommodations, the rental amount can be divided in any fashion, as long as the total amount paid in the OHAs does not exceed the actual rental expenses.  Thus Airman Normandy and Airman Brittany could share a house that costs £1500, and each pay £750, or one of them could pay £700 and one could pay £800, each would qualify for the 1/2 of the utility/recurring maintenance expense.

When a dual military couples jointly occupies leased housing overseas, they are treated as separate entities for purposes of OHA.  They are each eligible to claim OHA costs up to the amount of their OHA limit, but the total payments between the two of them may not exceed the actual amount of rental expenses that are being paid on their property.  This is true regardless of whether or not they have dependents.  If they do have dependents, one service member (usually the more senior) is eligible to receive up to the amount of OHA at the with dependents rate, and the other service member is eligible to receive up to the amount of OHA at the without dependents rate.

Your OHA can change every month based on the exchange rate between the local currency and the U.S. Dollar. 

Move In Housing Allowance (MIHA)

MIHA is paid upon moving in and helps to offset costs associated with initial occupancy including:

  1. Move-In Housing Allowance/Miscellaneous: This entitlement is paid in a lump-sum and no receipts are required. Examples of such necessities are sinks, toilets, light fixtures, kitchen cabinets, and a refrigerator and stove (which sometimes are not provided in overseas dwellings).
  2. Move-In Housing Allowance/Rent: This covers all rent related expenses; receipts are required. These expenses are fixed, one time, non refundable charges levied by the landlord, the landlord(s) agent or a foreign government which the member must pay before occupying a dwelling. Examples are real estate agent fees, redecoration fees, and one-time lease taxes.
  3. Move-In Housing Allowance/Security: These security related expenses are for members assigned to designated areas where dwellings must be modified to minimize exposure to a terrorist or criminal threat. Receipts are required. Expenditures which are not related to the physical dwelling, such as personal security guards or dogs, are not allowed under Move-In Housing Allowance. Move-In Housing Allowance security payments must be approved by the senior officer in the country.

Related Topics

OCONUS Basic Allowance for Housing

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