Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: Base Housing and BAH

Military housing

There are many pros and cons to living in base housing. It's important that you understand all the details before making a decision. Today's email demonstrates some of the frustration that can happen when you don't carefully read the rules.

Dear Kate,

I am so mad! Our base housing company just took our entire $124 BAH increase! How can they do that? We're still in the same house, we're not getting anything extra for that money.

Who do I complain to?


Dear Abby,

In most cases, your contract for privatized military housing is for the full amount of your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH.) If BAH goes up, the housing company still gets the whole larger amount. If BAH goes down, the housing company has to accept the new lower rate from new folks. (Old folks have rate protection.) Basically, the privatized housing company has to accept whatever happens with BAH. While they gain when BAH goes up, they also accept the risk when BAH falls.

There are some locations where privatized housing rents are set at a fixed rate. These are special situations, either permanent or short-term, where the rent for a particular unit, neighborhood, or installation is set at an amount less than BAH. If you are in a lease that includes promotional pricing, you should not see your rental amount change with changes to BAH.

This stuff is pretty clearly stated in the privatized housing rental agreements, but most people don't read the whole thing before they sign it and the language isn't always 100% clear if you're not used to the terms they're using.

I hope that helps,


It is always wise to read the entire agreement before signing it, and get clarification on any points that you don't understand. This is true for base housing as well as any housing that you rent out in town. You should know exactly what the lease says before you sign it. If you need help, legal services is really good at deciphering lease terms.

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