The Navy will allow private companies that run many of its on-base housing and barracks buildings to start charging sailors a new, refundable pet deposit, with the Marine Corps saying it will soon follow suit.
According to an administrative memo released Monday, companies that run Public-Private Venture (PPV) military housing will be able to ask for a maximum of $250.00 per pet and up to $500.00 per household with new leases. The memo offered no further detail on pricing or whether there would be a two pet cap.
The move, according to the memo, is being put in place to move Navy housing "in alignment with standard industry practice and other military Services."
When asked what was driving the implementation of the fee, Coleen San Nicholas-Perez, a spokeswoman for the Navy’s commander of installations, told Military.com in an email Thursday that the Pentagon's universal lease for PPV housing allows companies to collect such a fee and that it would encourage “all residents to prevent home damages potentially caused by pets.”
“In the long-term, damage prevention helps to maintain PPV housing for incoming Sailors and families,” she added.
A Marine Corps spokesman told Military.com Tuesday that the Marines will have a similar policy coming out soon.
At the moment, the Navy says that there are no bases that have implemented the new pet deposit but, starting June 1 PPV companies can submit proposals to include them in new leases.
The Monday memo notes that sailors who currently have signed leases will not have to pay a deposit. The private housing companies "will be expected to identify pet damage charges separately" and cannot use the pet deposit toward non-pet damages.
However, the policy does leave refunding the deposit to "the discretion of the individual PPV military family housing partner."
“If a Sailor has any questions or concerns about possible damage charges, they can contact their local Navy [housing service center] and ask them to attend the move-out inspection,” San Nicholas-Perez said.
Meanwhile, several base housing companies continue to generate headlines about the poor conditions that service members endure, often at the cost of their health and safety.
Balfour Beatty, a company that runs more than 8,600 Navy homes, including those at several major Navy bases in Florida, was the target of a Senate investigation last year that found its management practices "put military families' health and safety at risk."
In 2021, the Justice Department ordered the company to pay more than $65.4 million in fines and restitution after it was found guilty of fraud and manipulating maintenance records over seven years in order to obtain performance bonuses as a housing management contractor.
The move also comes at a time when some bases in places like Key West are already experiencing problems offering affordable housing.
San Nicholas-Perez said that “the Navy is keenly aware of the increased financial pressures on service members across all Services” but added that “Navy PPV housing still remains more affordable than comparable homes out in town and a refundable pet deposit ensures those homes can continue to be maintained at a high quality, without penalizing responsible pet owners.”
In a report issued in April, a government watchdog found that the Pentagon still has issues with providing suitable, well-maintained housing for service members and their families.
The department, according to the Government Accountability Office, still has work to do in holding companies accountable and providing oversight.
"Although each of the military departments is conducting these inspections as required, DoD has not developed clear or consistent inspection standards and the military departments have not provided adequate inspector training," the report said.
-- Patricia Kime contributed to this report.
-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.