A proposed Senate bill would allow military families to break their off base leases if military housing becomes available, this story reports.
Sounds great, right? Maybe not.
When we PCSed to Fort Campbell, Ky. last year we were place 91 on the list of people waiting for on base housing. Since that didn't make our odds very good of getting a place on post before our 10 days of military funded hotel use was up, we found a home in the community and signed a lease.
Six months later we got a phone call offering us [semi yucky but still livable] "surplus" housing, including one more bedroom than we are technically allotted. I wasn't loving our chosen off base neighborhood, and I would've loved to say "yes, thank you, we'll move in tomorrow." Problem? We had a lease off base ... and the penalties for breaking it would have been forfeiture of our deposit or, if the owners took us to court, the remaining six month's rent.
Needless to say, we stayed put.
This bill, however, would make it possible for renters to jump ship on their lease when on base housing comes up. And you better believe military families would take advantage of it. Six months in a neighborhood is enough to realize that you hate it and that your on base friends have it good -- really good.
The problem, my friend Rick Maze points out in his story, is that this will completely screw over landlords. If I were the owners of our current home, who are also military members, I would be very hesitant to rent this house to another military family knowing that they could leave me in a no-renter-lurch at any time.
And if I did decide to rent to a military family regardless of the risk, and they bailed for on based housing ... I then would be stuck paying for two homes until I could find another renter. If I lived somewhere other than the base where the home is located, I may have to make unplanned trip to take care of my house. And if I was deployed and my spouse and family were at home dealing with all of Murphy's cruel jokes at one time, I would feel really, really stressed out and not nearly as focused on the mission as I should be.
See where I'm going with this?
While this measure sounds like a fantastic idea for renters, it sounds like a terrible idea for landlords, many of whom are servicemembers themselves.